Usually, where there is an ancient city, there has been a military fortification. And to find what is left of it, if there is anything left, we usually have to go up to the mountain that dominates the surroundings.
In this case, Jaén is the ancient city, and the Castle of Santa Catalina is the fortification. The last of the many that were built on this hill over the centuries. Even Hannibal's troops protected themselves in this place many centuries ago, but the most exciting stories we have, come from the Middle Ages, as you know there are many anecdotes related from those times.
The Arabs were in control at that time and had a corresponding fortress at the top of the hill. It lasted for a long time, but in 1245 Fernando III arrived wanting to fight and, after a few months of long sieges, he warned the King of Jaén, Alhamar, that he better sat down with him to talk about business.
Fernando's offer must have been something like this: you leave this place, and I'll let you continue being the King of Granada; at least for the moment …
Alhamar swallowed hard, handed over Jaén and became a servant of the Christian King, retiring to Granada lands and was forced to pay a fortune every year. So the city changed hands, and in a short time the new owners, Fernando and Juana, were undertaking works in that ancient Islamic fortress. The result was going to be a medieval castle like the ones out of a book, with its battlements and square towers, and which would also keep their son Alfonso X the Wise, and the latter's grandson, a certain Fernando IV busy.
Once the fights between the cross and the half moon men were over, walls and towers lost, for a while, their reason for being. But history always ends up bringing more action, and in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, new modifications in the stone colossus were required.
And there was still Napoleon's soldiers to arrive, who appeared in Jaén one day in the nineteenth century, and went directly to occupy the fortress. They placed their cannons, made their own reforms and stayed around enjoying the views until the invasion went wrong ways, and they were forced to move away. But of course, not before blowing the castle up, so that nobody else could use it.
The Castle of Santa Catalina had to endure to all of this, and also, to a few shots during the Carlist Wars. But luckily we have it here, wonderfully preserved and waiting to show you a panoramic view that, believe us, it is something you don't see every day.