Located in Slovenia in a town with the same name, Predjama Castle is the largest cave castle in the world. It is approximately 124 meters tall. The castle is one of the few examples of its kind and a stunning one at that as well. While today it is only a museum, Predjama Castle has quite a history behind its walls and in its secret passages that date back to centuries earlier.
The unique aspect of the castle is the fact that it is a “cave castle.” A cave castle is a castle that is built in front of or inside the mouth of a cave. The main benefit of this type of cave was that it was so secure. Since the back of the castle was literally inside a cave, enemy forces can only attack from the front making it much easier to stop them.
Although cave castles became much more popular during the 14th and 15th centuries in Europe, Predjama is both the older and the largest one. While the first mention of the castle was in the late 13th century, historians believe that the castle existed in the 12th century. Its architect was the Patriarch of Aquileia and it belonged to the Luegg family.
The castle’s most famous owner was the knight Erasmus of Lueg in the 15th century. Though in some other sources, his name is Erazem, all of them agree on the basis of his story. Erasmus was a brave, skilled fighter but a little reckless one as well. When a commander of the imperial army insults his friend, Erasmus kills the commander which starts a huge conflict.
Erasmus manages to upset a whole empire and draw their attention with this murder. Consequently, the imperial army sieges the castle to have revenge. Seeing that the castle is nearly impossible to breach, the army commander decides to wait. His plan is to cut the supplies to the castle and let the people in it starve to death or surrender.
What the commander did not know was that Predjama Castle had secret tunnels and passageways built underneath and inside the cave. Through these secret roads, Erasmus provided the people with food and water to the commander’s surprise. It looked like the castle would survive this siege for decades. However, a spy inside the castle kills Erasmus, ending his life and the battle at the same time.
After the siege, the imperial army nearly destroys the castle. In the following years, the castle changes owners many times. A few years after the war, the Oberburg family acquires the castle and renovates it. After some time, the Archduke of Australia owns the castle and fortifies it. While the main castle has never undergone a drastic form change, other towers have seen destruction and renovations.
Until WW2, the castle belonged to the Windischgrätz family, one of the noble dynasties of Austrian descent. After the war, the Yugoslav government confiscates the castle and turns it into a museum. To this day, the castle remains a museum and one of the biggest tourist attractions in Slovenia. There are various tours, exhibitions, and reenactments inside the castle/museum for everyone to enjoy.
Moreover, Predjama Castle is a common location for popular culture media outlets as well. Games like Counter-Strike, some Jackie Chan movies, and the popular tv show The Witcher all featured the castle in some way. The castle’s popularity grows every year with the increasing number of tourists and the interest of the media.