One day when I had the morning off I decided to have another crack at climbing up Santa Catalina hill to the castle of the same name. Knowing it would be an hour’s hard climb I packed a bottle of water and set off at 8am before the sun got too hot. My last attempt back in 2013 had failed because I didn’t know how to find the final path up the last part of the steep slope to the castle gate. This time I’d done my research and knew where to go.
From the cathedral square walk along Calle Maestra to Plaza Audencia and turn left up Calle Aldana and it’s continuation Calle Parilla.
This takes you to the aptly named Calle Buenavista which ends at Calle Circunvalación (the road that curls round the back of the castle hill which you would take if you were driving).
Turn right onto Circunvalación and after a few yards you’ll see a gravel road going up the hill to your left. Follow it until it bends round to the right and either take the faint path that cuts through the woods on the left or stay on the road until you get to the remains of the castle curtain wall and take the footpath that goes up along the inside of the wall.
After a steep climb you’ll come out on Circunvalación again but now you’ll be within sight of the castle gate.
Follow the road up through the gate and the first building you’ll come to is the Parador, a government owned hotel and restaurant. Spain has a policy of opening parador’s either in or in association with many of its ancient monuments. I think it’s a good idea as it generates funds for their preservation and helps make them living buildings. There’s more about this parador below and in a later food post.
Continue past the parador and you’ll come to the Santa Catalina castle itself. It’s now a museum and is well worth a visit. Entrance cost €3.50 in 2015.
You can get a good sense of castle‘s long and varied history from the displays but the real reward is the stunning view from the top of the towers.
Here’s the video I took, please ignore the panting!
When you come out of the castle you can continue along to the end of the ridge to the large cross that overlooks the town.
It was first erected by King Ferdinand when the Christians retook the town from the Moors and so intentionally it has a great view of the cathedral which was itself built over the mosque. If you’re unlucky it can be a bit busy up here with school and tour groups.
As I mentioned earlier, next to the castle is the parador, a government-owned hotel built in 1965 on top of some of the castle ruins. It blends quite well with the castle, especially inside. Please see my later post about eating in the parador restaurant.