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:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.