“Another castle?” my husband asked with an exasperated look on his face. Having visited over 30 countries in the past three years, it’s true that I have dragged my husband through many a castle—perhaps 40? 50? I’ve honestly lost count. At one point—please tell me if it’s a guy thing—the castles have started to look the same to him. But I assured him that Predjama Castle is going to be quite different.
We booked the tour through Viator.com and the visit to the castle was packaged with a tour inside Postojna Cave which was just a few kilometres away. The tour included a hotel pickup from Ljubljana, a small group of 8, a comfortable van, and—perhaps one of the highlights of the tour—a rockstar tour guide named Vladimir.
VLADIMIR. I’ll confess that Vladimir is one of the reasons I booked the tour; the Viator.com reviews make him sound nothing short of legendary. And true enough, with his chin-length hair & long side burns, his flared jeans & his Woodstock swagger, combined with the historical narrative & knowledge of the sites, it was like being on tour with Mick Jagger and David Attenborough at the same time. For example, he would tell us such detailed and elaborate stories of the legends of Erazem of Predjama and the Habsburgs, and then point to a green weed at the far wall of the castle and say, “My grandfather always told me to look for the best things to smoke, and that is the best thing I’ve ever smoked in my life.” He is absolutely hilarious.
ONE-OF-A-KIND. Although Vladimir would steal the scene every now and then, the real star of the show is the castle. Unlike Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria which can be seen standing like a sentinel on top of the Bavarian Alps from far away, Predjama Castle is tucked away. This meant that we had to go to the castle gates, park the van, and walk a little bit to see beyond the low-hanging branches of the trees. Being not fully in view added to the suspense of seeing Predjama Castle, and when we did finally lay eyes on it, it was simply breathtaking and unlike any other castle we’ve seen before. Right in the mouth of a cave stood a baroque castle. The entire structure hung dramatically in the middle of 123 metre-high rocky cliff—imposing, magnificent, defiant, beautiful.
The castle’s interiors are simple and quite basic compared to the opulence of those in Western Europe. But the green, flowery fields and lush trees that surround it, combined with the soft strands of River Lokva that disappear underneath the castle, create an overall romantic appeal. The best part for us is the secret passageway to the cave behind the castle that served as refuge during a siege. The cave is separated by a draw bridge so anyone inside can be pretty safe. Even more, it also provided secret tunnels that go all the way to Postojna Cave and further to Italy.
With stories of knights, cannonball victories, impressive architecture, and secret tunnels, my husband came around. Just as we walked back towards the van to return to Ljubljana he admitted, “Yeah, that was pretty cool.”