Parador de Jaén - 13th century castle-fortress (4*)
Perched on top of the rugged hill of Santa Catalina and looking out across the historic city of Jaén, the magnificent Parador de Jaén– a favourite spot for the locals, especially for smart weddings - occupies a castle built after the reconquest of the city by Ferdinand III of Castile in 1246.
The Santa Catalina castle complex includes the remains of an earlier Moorish fortress and its towers, walls and castellations descend from the hill down into the steep narrow streets of the old city, whose origins go back to the time of the Carthaginians.
The Parador's interior boasts impressive arches and traditional furnishings and the views from the balconies of the bedrooms one may look out across the plain of the River Guadalquivir to the distant Sierra Morena, or south to the Sierra Nevada. Among the illustrious guests who have spent a night in this remarkable hotel are the present King of Spain as well as several other national and international personalities. Charles de Gaulle spent a prolonged period in Jaén as he set about writing his memoirs, and one of the Parador's rooms now bears his name.
The Parador de Jaén's grounds contain pleasant gardens and swimming pool, and the views from virtually every part of the hotel make spending a night in the Santa Catalina castle a simply unforgettable experience.