What to see
Frigiliana is a Spanish town in the district of Axarquía located in the Natural Park of Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama, so their environment is privileged for lovers nature and that of trekking.
Its white houses, its traditional cuisine and its Moorish past of narrow streets and passages make Frigiliana one of the favourite enclaves of those seeking to enjoy their holiday with all five senses. This town owns the purest popular architectural province of Arab origin and received the 1st National Award for Beautification of the Towns of Spain in 1982.
It is noteworthy that the British community residing in Frigiliana, as well as throughout the Axarquía, is very large.
The Palacio de los Condes (Palace of Condes) of Frigiliana, popularly known as ‘El Ingenio’, is a Renaissance mansion of the XVI century. It is currently the factory of molasses Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Our Lady of Carmen), the only traditional factory of this product that runs in Europe. In its facade, the decoration paintings with geometric motifs are highlighted. It was built partly with materials from the Moorish castle, which can be seen in the stones of its facade.
If you get close to the Tourist Office of Frigiliana, you will see Casa del Apero, which also houses the town library and the Archaeological Museum. It was built in the eighteenth century and initially was attached to «»El Ingenio»». Within the Archaeological Museum we can find a skull of the Neolithic, Phoenician vessels or Moorish dagger.
The church of San Antonio is the most prominent monument of Frigiliana. It was built in the XVII century in Renaissance style almost entirely. In the temple, there is a sculpture of San Anton of XVIII century made of polychrome wood. In the entrance porch, there is the choir, with a crown of rococo style, and on its main façade, you can see a shield of Bishop Fray Alonso de Santo Tomas.
Another monument worth visiting in the chapel of Santo Cristo de la Caña. The building dates from the XVIII century and has a revered size of neo-baroque style ‘Ecce Homo’.
We can also find in Frigiliana, the remains of the Arab castle of Lizar. It is located on the top of the town and dates from the IX century .
Frigiliana is one of eight towns of Axarquía that is part of the Natural Park of Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama, allowing it to offer to its visitors, numerous outdoor activities. The eight trails that can be explored inside Frigiliana, four of them belonging to the Great Path of Malaga, makes many tourists decide to make a repeat visit.
The festive calendar starts on January 20 with the Festival of San Sebastian, the Saint of the village. On that day, a Mass and a procession in honour of the saint, accompanied by fireworks is held. Formerly, this festival was extended to celebrate the Fair known as «»La Funcion»» but in 1966, it was moved to the month of June.
In February, the Frigilian Carnival is celebrated, although it is a young tradition, which has great reception.
In Frigilian, the International Festival of Oriental Dance is celebrated in April, and in May, the Cruces de Mayo or Day of the Cross are celebrated. And colourful flowers flood the streets of Frigiliana.
Fair of San Antonio de Padua is celebrated in June. Although it lasts for 5 days, there are numerous activities, the main event is the traditional procession held on June 13 and which is carried in procession of the Saint Patron in a wagon pulled by oxen.
The last weekend of August is celebrated as the Three Cultures Festival. Music, food and culture which come together in this event that has been declared of Tourist Singularity in the province. It includes performances, parades, exhibitions, a craft market, workshops and gastronomic tours, lectures on Islam, Judaism and Christianity, etc.
A festival recently created but has had great success is the Day of molasses. Although there is no fixed day, held in late April and its protagonist is the product of the earth, molasses. Throughout the day, visitors can enjoy numerous free recipes with this product. In addition, there are performances and various activities that accompany the holiday.
In the cuisine of Frigiliana, hearty dishes of traditional Axarquía cuisine are included like fried spiced lamb, fennel stew, the emblanco (a very mild white fish soup), or chick peas with tripe (usually pork). Another typical crumbs (bread crumbs sauté with garlic and accompanied by peppers and fried pork). As for the pastry they highlight the arropía and marcochas, homemade sweets based on molasses.
Traces found in the cave of Los Murciélagos attest to the presence of man in Frigiliana since the late Neolithic to the Chalcolithic or Bronze Age. There is also an Algar menhir, and the necropolis in Cerrillo de las Sombras belongs to the Phoenician period.
The Romans settled in the area in 206 BC by virtue of a pact with the native population, which meant Frigiliana was part of the Conventus Gaditanus (from Gades, Cadiz). The village»s name can be traced back to this period: Frexinius, a term referring to a historical character about whom very little is known.
Little is known too about the years between the arrival of the Arabs in 711 until the late ninth century, when they built their fortress. We do know, however, that the village was dominated by Umar ibn Hafsun and that it was part of the Nasrid kingdom between the thirteenth and the fifteenth centuries.
Frigiliana surrendered to the Christian army of the Catholic Monarchs in 1485 without bloodshed. The Moors lost their rights; they were allocated the least fertile lands; they could not speak in their native language nor could they wear their traditional costumes. This transformed the village into the seedbed of the Moorish riots in the sixteenth century. The Moors living in the regions of Axarquía and Montes de Málaga took refuge in Frigiliana»s fortress, waiting for the help Ibn Umayyah had promised them. There were 7,000 of them in the fortress, which, together with a rock, dominated the Sierra de la Almijara – an impregnable garrison.
In May 1569, the magistrate of Vélez charged, to appalling results for the Christian soldiers. 25 galleys of the Italian fleet were at that time sailing the Mediterranean Sea, and they were asked for help in fighting the rebels. 6,000 men were part of the second assault. The Moors resisted, but they were eventually vanquished, giving up on 11 June 1569. More than 2,400 soldiers were killed, hundreds were injured and thousands fled.
The battle of the Frigiliana Rock was the subject matter of a popular romance transcribed on ceramic tiles by Amparo Ruiz de Luna. The tiles can still be seen across the village.
With the expulsion of the Muslims, silk production came to a halt in the area. It was replaced by the sugar cane industry as the main economic activity, to which the Palace of the Counts of Frigiliana (Nuestra Señora del Carmen Sugar Cane Factory) and the Church of San Antonio de Padua are related. Frigiliana became a chartered village under King Philip IV.