Jumpin' Jack

Jumpin' Jack

Posted on 10/30/2006

Photo taken on October 29, 2006


and your father smelt of elderberries
Predjamski grad
Erazem Predjamski
Your mother was a hamster
Monty Python gag

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Every castle in the world is unique in some way. No two are the same.

But this one - even though it's rather small and humble compared to some - is unique in more than one way. Probably the only one in the world, really integrated in a cave system - actually the second largest cave system in Slovenia.

It's located 9km from Postojna (where another cave is located - world-famous Postojnska jama - one of the largest in the world).

Its name Predjamski grad literally means Castle in Front of the Cave. And the village in front of it is also named Predjama.

This castle wasn't built in one go. First written records exist from 13th century, though the first part (left wing) was probably built in the first half of 12th century. Middle part was added in renaissance, and the right wing was build around 1570. Some things were added and changed later, but since 1990 renovation work is in progress, restoring it to the original 16th century look.

A medieval knight's tournament is held each summer in front of the castle and it's really worth a visit (though it's quite crowded then - as far as I heard).

Castle changed quite a few owners, but probably the best known was notorious rogue knight Erasmus Lueger, aka Erazem Predjamski. In 15th century, when he lived, only the first part of the castle existed. And it more resembled a robber's den than a castle. Wasn't very large or comfortable - but virtually impregnable.

Erazem was once a guest of Austrian emperor Friederich III. When one of emperor's friends (or relatives, as some sources state) insulted one of Erazem's good friends, Erazem drew the sword and killed him. For this, he was sentenced to death, but managed to escape and made it back to his stronghold.

Then he started attacking caravans, robbing whomever and whenever he seemed fit and generally acting as a major pain in emperor's behind. Therefore Triest's governor Ravbar was ordered to find and kill him.

Legend says that none of Ravbar's men knew where Erazem's stronghold was. So Erazem himself, cheeky as he was, put on a diguise and offered to lead them to it. Be as it may, as they found out the location, they laid the siege to the castle for months. When they froze their bums off in the middle of winter, Erazem mocked them and allegedly even catapulted a roasted ox from the castle and wished them good appetite. (Could be that the Monty Python crew borrowed this legend for their French Taunting sketch - or perhaps it's just a funny coincidence.)

When the next spring arrived, Erazem started to send them freshly picked cherries. Ravbar was thoroughly puzzled by this. There were rumours among his men, that there was a sort of paradise land in the caves behind the castle, that yields all sorts of crop throughout the year...

Little did they know, that there's a passage through the cave, which exits on the other side of the hill. Probably this passage and the elaborate cave system were the main reason why the castle was built there in the first place.

Though Ravbar received these fruity gifts from Erazem, the siege itself proved fruitless - until the summer of 1484, when Ravbar managed to bribe one of Erazem's servants. This servant told him, that though castle's walls can easily withstand cannon fire, the walls of the outhouse (see notes on the photo) are quite another matter. A well aimed cannonball could penetrate its wall and kill whomever is using it at the moment.

So, when Erazem was relieving himself, the servant gave Ravbar's men a signal and they fired at the outhouse. The cannonball passed right through and missed Erazem. But when it hit t