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:
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