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Irene's Adventures

Spain - Jaen

SPAIN | Sunday, 17 September 2017 | Views [154]

hotel near St. Catherine's Castle

We stopped at St. Catherine's Castle, an 8th century Moorish fortress. It changed hands many times over the years, with the Christians and Napoleonic French enlarging and reinforcing various aspects of the fortress during their occupation. It still sits majestically at the top of a large rocky outcrop overlooking the town of Jaen, with sweeping views of the countryside. There are olive groves as far as the eye can see. There is a hotel cleverly built to look like an extension of the Castle.

olive groves

It is sort of shaped like a ship, with the bow part being a pentagonal shaped Watch Tower. It was from this tower that signals were sent, via mirrors and smoke, to other defensive towers. Near the tower were underground granaries, which were converted to jail cells during the French occupation. The stern holds the Keep and Tower of Ladies, which has a barrel vaulted ceiling and lancet windows. The middle part has the stables. We couldn't make out the unique indoor toilets – which were practically unheard of in medieval times. The waste went through the wall and dropped 35 meters below.

 ship shaped castle   St. Catherine's Castle - looking toward the Watch Tower

There were 3 water reservoirs at one time, that held rain water directed from roofs. One got blown up after its abandonment during the War of Independence. The French poisoned another in 1812. The third was also doomed by the French when they filled it with debris.

This particular Spanish province has over 400 castles, towers, and turrets, having the highest concentration of defensive systems in all of Spain.

castle walls

Outside of the castle walls, a steep narrow path leads to the Cross. It occupies the highest point of the outcrop, in front of the Watch Tower. Fernando III ordered it during the Christian conquest. It is the only spot on the hill that has a view of the cathedral below.

the Cross

 

We carried on, as we were anxious to get to Granada.

castle walls

 

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