The fortress can be seen from the beginning of the path, but in the distance it appears to be embedded in the cliff, not located inside the cave. It is as you approach the steps when you understand that the immense mass, six stories high, is completely sheltered in the cleft of the precipice. It is the Predjama Castle, a tourist attraction that would be one of the most sought-after anywhere on the planet, but in a country like Slovenia, rich in beauty, it does not appear in the main ranking.

The fortification is located nine kilometers from the town of Postojna, and has had the “bad luck” of being in the same municipal area as another famous cave that attracts all the attention. Not only because it has a huge visitable route (up to 24 linear kilometers, part of which is done aboard a mining-style train), but because in its darkness hides the enigmatic Proteus, an albino and blind newt that only appears in some cavities in the Western Balkans.

But Predjama is a formidable building, which demands a leisurely visit. Because from the outside it seems that the journey is going to be a matter of a short time. But then there are stairs and passages, tunnels, chapels, warehouses and bedrooms that extend the visit for several hours. Looking out of one of the small windows, the visitor can see that the castle is like an extension of the cliff, and that the precipice is unbearable. Hence it was never conquered by any besieger.

The character that appears most in paintings and anecdotes is Erasmus of Predjama, lord of the castle in the 15th century who resisted the attacks of the imperial Habsburg army for up to a year and who today is a Slovenian myth. The cunning of having a cave passage, which connected his rooms with the cave located several dozen meters below and which allowed one to exit into the forest without being seen, gave wings to the many legends. Among them, having favored the inhabitants of nearby towns against the abuses of invaders, which has given him the easy nickname of “Slovenian Robin Hood.”

But all heroes have their Achilles heel, and Erasmus’s heel was the servant who sold the certain information that would allow his enemies to kill him (and have to go to the toilet). Specifically, the traitor revealed where the toilet used by the feudal lord was located and at what time he usually used it. The rest was the merit of the gunner, who aimed very well. The impact of the bombing can still be seen.

The complexity of the building is surprising. It is accessed via the typical drawbridge with a moat that prevents easy assault. And from there a labyrinth of rooms follows that includes dungeons, wine and food warehouses, kitchens, heated rooms, chapels, armories… Some dioramas that have mannequins dressed in period clothing help to better understand the space. As the visitor enters the bowels of the fortress, he notices how it is embedded in the cave. To the point that the highest part connects via stairs with the roof of the natural accident. The view of the valley from that point is sensational.

Upon leaving the castle, the traveler finds a large parking lot where the shuttle buses that connect Predjama with the urban center stop. They say that the body of the hero Erasmus is buried in that unceremonious tar esplanade. Next door, a discreet Jacobean chapel, where you can seal your credentials and continue the 2,200 kilometer walk to Santiago de Compostela.

Postojna is an hour and a half by train from the capital, Ljubljana, on a picturesque route. Or half the time in a private vehicle on roads 409 and E61.