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Predjama: The sector’s greatest cave fort


(CNN) — Predjama is without doubt one of the maximum bizarre castles on this planet, constructed within the mouth of a cave advanced on the finish of a valley in southwest Slovenia.

Set midway up a 400-foot (123-meter) vertical cliff face, it sounds as if in information from 1202 and is indexed via Guinness International Data as the arena’s greatest cave fort.

With a Renaissance facade relationship again to the 1580s, the phrase “majestic” does not even start to describe it. But for excursion information and historian Vojko Jurca, some of the highlights is, on first appearances, just a little underwhelming.

“That is it,” he says proudly, indicating an outhouse rest room with a sloping roof and a boarded-up door.

It should glance unremarkable, however the tale in the back of it’s not.

The tale makes a speciality of robber baron Erasmus von Lueg, a neighborhood Robin Hood hero who fled to the fort within the mid-1480s after killing Rely Pappenheim, Marshal of the imperial Habsburg Court docket, in a duel whose legitimacy used to be disputed.

In retaliation, a siege used to be ordered on Predjama via German Emperor Frederick III.

However Erasmus stood company, aided via a community of secret tunnels burrowed into the rocks that allowed him to usher in provisions and accumulate rainwater.

He mocked his warring parties via sending them contemporary cherries introduced in from the Vipava Valley, 13 miles west, the usage of the ones underground passages.

The tip would come, after a yr and an afternoon, when Erasmus used to be betrayed via a servant.

As Jurca tells it, when Erasmus went to the outhouse situated on a third-floor terrace, the servant lit a wood torch as a sign. Moments later, a cannonball got here whistling during the air, killing Erasmus in the course of his remaining bowel motion.

The outhouse has obviously been rebuilt within the intervening years.

From Slovenia to Westeros

outhouse1

Ultimate actions: Erasmus used to be killed when a cannonball hit the fort’s outhouse.

John Malathronas

The way of Erasmus’s demise hasn’t escaped the eye of “Recreation of Thrones” enthusiasts who level on the equivalent, undignified finish of Lord Tywin Lannister, who used to be shot with a crossbow whilst on his toilet throne.

In addition they be aware that Predjama’s remaining homeowners, the Windisch-Grätz circle of relatives, who used the fort as a looking resort till the top of International Warfare II, have on their coat of fingers a wolf, the seal of the Stark noble area.

Because it occurs, writer George R. R. Martin visited the fort one night time in June 2011, after a e book signing match in Trieste.

“At the means house, we stopped on the maximum superb fort, constructed into the mouth of an enormous cave. No doubt need to style some fort in Westeros in this one, it used to be an eyeful, particularly via evening,” he says in a weblog put up.

Legend and historical past are best a part of the attraction of Predjama fort. You in point of fact need to talk over with to realize how human endeavor used to be so organically sure to nature.

Coming near the fort from any route, it is virtually totally hidden, best visual on the remaining second — while sentries across the fort would’ve been in a position to identify somebody coming right away.

As soon as within, it is obtrusive that protection quite than convenience used to be the most important fear within the Center Ages — the fort is impregnable however the chilly and damp make it virtually unlivable.

This present day, getting into the fort comes to passing via a drawbridge. The unique front used to be upper up the place two faint doorways may also be glimpsed. They have been reached by way of ladders that might briefly be withdrawn.

Again within the day, guests would first input the court docket, the place tough justice used to be allotted. Few of the ruler’s topics can be allowed additional than this, until they have been unfortunate.

At the back of a thick wood door there is a torture room, which, uniquely, is located in a real cavernous dungeon. The most well liked punishments right here have been the rack, on which prisoners have been stretched, and the pony, a painfully pointed triangular instrument they have been made to straddle.

One of the vital delightful areas follows. The eating room is insulated via partitions which might be just about 5 and a part ft thick, and warmed via the small however practical kitchen, through which a fissure doubles as a herbal extractor hood.

You’ll be able to additionally check up on an authentic latrine, a sticking out seat over the cliff that permits gravity to do its grimy paintings. Erasmus would have used straw, dried moss and cabbage leaves as a substitute of bathroom paper, or no less than he would have prior to he used to be blown to smithereens.

‘Homicide holes’

The castle's barracks is now an armory museum.

The fort’s barracks is now an armory museum.

John Malathronas

A climb up extra stairs to the 0.33 surface unearths the gun loops, arrow slits and homicide holes used to pour boiling oil or molten resin directly to the besiegers.

That is the place the open terrace is situated. Right here there is a view of the entire valley, in addition to essentially the most well-known outhouse in Slovenian historical past.

Subsequent to it’s the bed room. It is the warmest room, as it is the just one with a hearth. Fortress keepers lived right here till the Nineteen Eighties.

Upstairs is an attic that served as a barracks and a lookout. The perspectives down the Lokva Valley are uninterrupted and beautiful.

The barracks had been transformed to an armory museum showcasing medieval guns like battleaxes, halberds, crossbows and flails.

Apparently, a passage right here leads directly to the torture room. Possibly somebody snoozing on responsibility may well be unceremoniously dragged down into it.

From right here you’ll additionally input the innards of the cave, exploring till the sunshine from the doorway dwindles to a speck, letting you ponder the environment.

The in depth limestone cave gadget in southern Slovenia is named karst, after the Latin title Carsus given to the plateau above Trieste.

Because it used to be the best-known limestone terrain for hundreds of years, the phrase has turn into generic, describing any limestone terrain with cavities like a Swiss cheese with holes.

Underneath the fort, one massive cave stretches for 8.7 miles, 2nd in duration to the close by advanced of Postojna.

There is no vacationer infrastructure at this massive cavern, however it’s imaginable to talk over with right through summer time months with right kind caving equipment, lamps and a consultant information. It is closed in iciness as a result of a colony of Schreiber’s long-fingered bats makes use of it to mate and hibernate.

Memorial tree

The castle's Renaissance facade dates to the 1580s.

The fort’s Renaissance facade dates to the 1580s.

JURE MAKOVEC/AFP by way of Getty Photographs

Again within the fort, a one-way gadget leads backpedal to the knights’ room, notable for its Gothic niches and a ceiling painted with oxblood.

There are glimpses right here and there of ways the construction’s developers made environment friendly use in their rocky state of affairs. One small shaft close to the go out was a kennel for looking canines, whilst a cave mouth underneath the fort served as stables.

Leaving the fort, information Vojko has yet one more forestall on his excursion — a close-by village the place an unwell linden tree is being propped up within the cemetery of Our Woman of Sorrows.

The church used to be consecrated round 1450 via the bishop of Trieste, long run Pope Pius II.

“Legend has it that this linden tree used to be planted on best of Erasmus’ grave,” Vojko says.

The tree used to be badly broken via fireplace in 2001, but it surely supposed such a lot to the villagers that tree surgeons have been known as in, and its trunk cut up and repaired.

It nonetheless proudly survives, like Predjama fort itself.



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