The castle was built in the 13th century as an Arab fortress. When the Christian retook control of the city from the Moors, the castle was given to King Ferdinand. The Christian built a church dedicated to Santa Catalina right next to the castle.
Having been built in the 13th century, the castle has witnessed many battles and historic events. It was in this castle where Christopher Columbus initially spoke of exploring the Indies to Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand, back in 1489.
Located in an 13th century Arab fortress, Parador de Jaén hides quite a few ghostly secrets behind its doors. According to a guest who stayed in the castle's Room 22, he was awakened in the middle of the night by loud thuds on the door and the cries of a woman. It was later confirmed that the noises were made by the ghost of a young woman who had died of heartbreak in that very room many centuries ago. The hotel also accommodates the spirit of Terrible Lizard, a prisoner who died of starvation while being locked up in the fortress centuries ago. Most people say he is a harmless ghost, but he is believed to possess the distracted guests.