parador de jaen

Photos courtesy of Parador de Jaén








Ancient chronicles relate that the first fortification on the site was a tower named “Hannibal’s Tower,” after a visit by the famous Carthaginian general en route with his elephants to conquer Rome.

Next, an Arab fortress was built by emir Ibn al-Ahmar. In 1246, in face of the approaching Christian reconquest, the emir ceded the castle to King Ferdinand III and became his vassal in return for control of Granada and its surrounding territory to the south. Ibn al-Ahmar was further obliged to help Ferdinand capture Sevilla.

Eventually, the Christians overran Jaén and built a church next to the castle, dedicating it to Santa Catalina, after whom the castle now takes its name.

Another historical moment occurred here in 1489, when Christopher Columbus first presented his idea of searching for the Indies to Ferdinand and Isabella.

Pamela’s Perspective

The parador lies next to the castle in a building cleverly constructed to blend in with real thing. Therefore, you aren’t staying inside the original castle, but you can explore the grounds and ruins.


Parador de Jaén

A 13th-century castle


Castillo de Santa Catalina s/n
23001 Jaén (Jaén)
Tel: ++34 953 23 00 00
Fax: ++34 953 23 09 30
Official parador website
Reserve with

Fast facts

45 rooms

Double rooms: 100–225 euros
Single rooms: 80% of double
room rate
Rates include tax. Breakfast extra.
Free Wi-Fi

Open: all year

Getting there

The parador is located 5 km west of the city of Jaén, which is off routes N-323 and A-316. Look up on the Cerro de Santa Catalina hill and you’ll see it. Jaén is served by train and bus.

What to do

On site: seasonal swimming pool
Nearby: walks around Jaén; Sierra Magina Nature Reserve; hiking


When the Spanish government planned to install a parador at the Santa Catalina castle, they blasted the rock behind the actual Moorish castle in order not to damage the landmark silhouette and built a low-profile structure that wouldn’t be visible until the last moment while winding up the hill.

Constructed in local stone, it blends well with the original castle, and once you enter, you would never guess that you were not in an authentic medieval castle.

You approach the castle by winding up a circular mountain road and crossing over a drawbridge. Through the medieval gate and entry, you’ll find a three-story baronial hallway, with tapestries, baronial shields, and suits of armor, providing a medieval atmosphere.

Comfortable guest rooms feature canopied beds, fireplaces, and balconies that command views across the countryside dotted with olive trees to distant mountains.

The parador has a good reputation for its Andalucian cuisine, which is served in a Moorish-style dining room.

Something special

curlicueSuperb panoramic views