Predjama Castle is a Renaissance castle built within a cave mouth in the historical region of Inner Carniola. The castle was first mentioned in the year 1274 with the German name Luegg, when the Patriarch of Aquileia built the castle in Gothic style. The castle was built under a natural rocky arch high in the stone wall to make access to it difficult. It was later acquired and expanded by the Luegg noble family, also known as the Knights of Adelsberg (the German name of Postojna).
The castle became known as the seat of the knight Erazem Lueger, lord of the castle in the 15th century and a renowned robber baron. He was the son of the Imperial Governor of Trieste, Nikolaj Lueger.
According to legend, Erazem came into conflict with the Habsburgs when he killed the commander of the Imperial army, Marshall Pappenheim, who had offended the honour of Erazem's deceased friend, Andrej Baumkircher of Vipava. Fleeing the vengeance of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick III, Erazem reached in the family fortress of Predjama. From there, he allied himself with King Matthias Corvinus and began to attack Habsburg estates and towns in Carniola. The emperor commissioned the governor of Trieste, Andrej Ravbar, with the capture or killing of Erazem.
For a year and a day, Erazem was besieged in his fortress. He taunted the attacking soldiers by pelting them with cherries: Erazem knew of a secret tunnel leading from the castle, which allowed him to travel to the nearby village of Vipava and collect supplies, including hoards of fresh cherries when in season.
The besiegers bribed one of Erazem's servants to reveal when his master was in attendance at the privy; the toilet, situated on the top floor and at the very edge of the castle, was the one place that was not impregnable. When the moment came, the servant placed a candle at the window, and, with a single cannonball, the besieging army killed Erazem.
After the siege and destruction of the original castle, its ruins were acquired by the Oberburg family. In 1511, the second castle, built by the Purgstall family in the first decade of the 16th century, was destroyed in an earthquake. In the year 1567, Archduke Charles of Austria leased the castle to baron Philipp von Cobenzl, who paid it off after 20 years. In 1570, the current castle was built in the Renaissance style, pressed next to a vertical cliff under the original Medieval fortification. The castle has remained in this form, virtually unchanged, to the present day.
In the 18th century, it became one of the favourite summer residences of the Cobenzl family. Both the Austrian statesman Philipp von Cobenzl and the diplomat Count Ludwig von Cobenzl spent time in the castle.
In 1810, the castle was inherited by Count Michael Coronini von Cronberg, and in 1846 it was sold to the Windischgrätz family, who remained its owners until the end of World War II, when it was nationalized by the Yugoslav Communist authorities and turned into a museum.
A vertical natural shaft leads out of the original castle, which Erazem ordered to be enlarged, and leads to the exit located at the top of the cliff, 25 meters away from the cliff's edge. This shaft allowed Erazem to secretly supply the castle with food in the time of the siege; he also used it to continue with his robberies.References:
Het Steen is a medieval fortress in the old city centre of Antwerp. Built after the Viking incursions in the early Middle Ages as the first stone fortress of Antwerp, Het Steen is Antwerp's oldest building and used to be its oldest urban centre.
Previously known as Antwerpen Burcht (fortress), Het Steen gained its current name in around 1520, after significant rebuilding under Charles V. The fortress made it possible to control the access to the Scheldt, the river on whose bank it stands. It was used as a prison between 1303 and 1827. The largest part of the fortress, including dozens of historic houses and the oldest church of the city, was demolished in the 19th century when the quays were straightened to stop the silting up of the Scheldt. The remaining building, heavily changed, contains a shipping museum, with some old canal barges displayed on the quay outside.
In 1890 Het Steen became the museum of archeology and in 1952 an annex was added to house the museum of Antwerp maritime history, which in 2011 moved to the nearby Museum Aan de Stroom. Here you’ll also find a war memorial to the Canadian soldiers in WWII.
There are some beautiful plaques on the back side of the Steen Castle at Antwerp. Canadian visitors will especially want to see the plaques thanking the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry for their part in the liberation of Antwerp, in 1944.
At the entrance to Het Steen is a bas-relief of Semini, above the archway, around 2nd century. Semini is the Scandinavian God of youth and fertility (with symbolic phallus). A historical plaque near Het Steen explains that women of the town appealed to Semini when they desired children; the god was reviled by later religious clergy. Inhabitants of Antwerp previously referred to themselves as 'children of Semini'.
At the entrance bridge to the castle is a statue of a giant and two humans. It depicts the giant Lange Wapper who used to terrorise the inhabitants of the city in medieval times.