The Spanish province of Jaen is renowned for its olive groves, being one of the biggest producers of olive oil not just in Spain but also in Europe.
If you’re imagining endless fields of olive trees, that’s exactly what the region of Jaen looks like. But beyond the “liquid gold,” Jaén also offers an array of architectural wonders and cultural jewels. And the one with the best view?
You guessed it—Castillo de Santa Catalina.
In this article, I have prepared a short photography tour along with my observations from my trip to the castle in July.
PS: If you plan on visiting Jaen, summertime is definitely a period you should avoid. It’s way too hot and the city is completely empty.
The Castle on the Hill
This fortress is perched atop the Santa Catalina Hill, standing guard over the city of Jaén.
Built originally by the Moors in the 8th century, today the castle is a venue for concerts, home to a Parador Hotel and a popular tourist attraction.
So if you’re wondering if the drive up the hill is worth it, hopefully, this article will give you all the answers you need.
Tour or No Tour, That Is the Question
You might be asking yourself – is it worth going inside?
Personally, I thought there wasn’t much to see – it’s very much like any Alcazaba fortress, with rough outlines of what the courtyard used to look like, and mostly empty rooms and observation towers.
The tour has one benefit though – you get amazing photos of the surrounding countryside as you can take photos from the observation towers, especially the one in the front facing the cross under the castle.
The castle is accessible via a main gate behind the hotel, and you will need to use the ticket machine that’s located right by the door.
There is a small booth where you will show the ticket and the ladies will give you a small plan and suggested route for the castle tour. There are no guided tours available on spot, unless you come with a private tour guide.
I was done with the tour in about 30 minutes. The 40C heat probably contributed to the speedy sightseeing though.
If you don’t want to go inside, you should still make your way past the gate to access the white cross at the end – the views from there are hard to beat. And it’s free to visit!
Views from the White Cross
As I mentioned, even if you don’t make it inside the castle, it’s worth taking the few extra steps to get to the white cross that’s at the edge of the mountain, right under the castle.
From there, you get one of a kind view of the Jaen Cathedral towering above the city.
How Do I Get There?
The castle is towering over the city so it’s hard to miss. If you’re with a car, it’s pretty easy to navigate using any GPS device.
I took a local taxi to the castle, from the center of Jaén it cost 10 euros one way. After that, I walked back down the hill on foot, which took about 30 minutes through the forest road (not the main traffic road).
There is also a small local bus that you can take up to the castle and back, but it doesn’t run very often and it was nearly impossible to find the exact schedule.
I actually went to the castle twice – first time it was closed for a concert, so I returned back the next day. I took taxi up there on both occasions, and took a walk down on the first day, and took the local bus on the way back.
Photos from my descend down are below.
Castillo de Santa Catalina, Jaén: Visitor Information
Location: Carretera al Castillo y Neveral, s/n 23003, Jaén (España)
Opening Hours: SUMMER (June 16th – September 15th) from Monday to Saturday: 10:00 – 14:00 and 17:00 – 21:00 h. On Sunday: 10:00 – 15:00 h. WINTER (September 16th – June 15th) from Monday to Saturday: 10:00 – 18:00 h. Sunday: 10:00 – 15:00 h.
Tickets: 3.50 euros for adults. Seniors & children from 4 years – 1.50 euros.
Free admission: Wednesday from 15:00 to 18:00 (WINTER) and Wednesday from 17:00 to 21:00 (SUMMER).