A CASTLE UNLIKE ANY OTHER
by Kathleen Bittner Roth
Wandering throughout castles has always been a favorite pastime of mine, from the grand baroque castles of Germany to Empress Elizabeth’s smaller summer palace in Hungary (her favorite). Then there is the beautiful castle in the Scottish Highlands where I was married, complete with bagpipes and handsome kilted Scots.
Of the many castles I have toured in several countries, I find one particular stronghold in Slovenia most intriguing. Not only is the structure unique, but so is its history.
Predjama Castle (pronounced pred yom a) is an impregnable fortress extending beyond the visible structure and far into a huge cave on a rocky vertical cliff. The structure was built around the 1200’s by the Lueggs, a noble family who were also known as the Knights of Adelsburg.
Around the fifteenth century, along came Knight Erazem Luegger, a rascally robber baron and son of the Imperial Governor of Trieste, Italy (Trieste is only about thirty miles from the castle). After ticking off not only the Hapsburgs for killing one of their leaders, Erazem had the Holy Roman Emperor after him. Deciding his life might be in jeopardy, Erazem hightailed it to Predjama, aligned himself with the Hungarian king and began sacking any Hapsburg estates he lay hands on.
Now the Austrians were hopping mad and placed a bounty on him. Erazem and the castle came under siege, but he and his small army only laughed because the fortress was impregnable. They would taunt their would-be attackers by pelting them with cherries. If the invaders wandered too close, they’d receive a rain of hot oil.
Erazem spent a year and a day sequestered there. He used a secret passage that led to the back and top of the cliff where he’d slip into a small village and gather supplies.
As bad luck would have it, there was only one place in the entire castle which was not impregnable and where he could become a target—his privy. It hung outward from the castle walls. A servant, having been bribed, lit a candle in a lower floor window signaling that the knight was indeed on his potty throne. The liege of men below, squinting up at that round hole at the bottom of the privy, aimed at the lily-white behind, and with a single cannon-shot sent the robber baron knight to kingdom come.
If you ever travel as far as lovely Slovenia, you won’t want to miss this intriguing landmark. To get there, you’ll enter a verdant, seemingly timeless valley that is at once peaceful. Along the foot path leading to Predjama Castle you’ll find a small but delightful restaurant serving delicious local food. The deck alone is worth the stop for its breathtaking views of the imposing castle and surrounding rolling, green hills.
And only twenty-three miles from Predjama Castle you’ll find the Lipica Stud Farm, cradle for the famous Lipizzaner horses of the Viennese classical riding school since the 1500's. But that’s another story for another time.
Kathleen Bittner Roth thrives on creating passionate stories featuring characters who are forced to draw on their strength of spirit to overcome adversity and find unending love. Her own fairy tale wedding in a Scottish castle led her to her current residence in Budapest, Hungary, considered one of Europe’s most romantic cities. However, she still keeps one boot firmly in Texas and the other in her home state of Minnesota. A member of Romance Writers of America®, she was a finalist in the prestigious Golden Heart® contest. Find Kathleen on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Pinterest and www.kathleenbittnerroth.com.
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