More attractions in Frigiliana... Castle Gorge Caves
Stunning vistas, inside and outside the village...
For the fit and active, there are some great walks to be had using Frigiliana as a base. Both the ones mentioned here afford fantastic views of the mountains and the glistening Mediterranean a few kilometres away.
Firstly, visiting the ruins (or rather remnants) of Frigiliana’s castle, Castillo de Lizar, on top of the El Peñon hill, which has had a fortification on it since Roman times.
Secondly, strolling up the Rio Higueron gorge that runs into the mountains above Frigiliana, an absolute must on a hot summers day. For the adventurous it might be possible to arrange for a guide to help you visit one of the small caves along the gorge.
If you’ve visited any of these places, don’t forget you’re invited to leave a comment describing your experience, (note that a Facebook account is necessary).
Castillo de Lizar
The fort or castle at Frigiliana, known locally as El Fuerte or El Castillo de Lizar, is today little more than a few rocks, but nevertheless it has a fascinating history. It is worth climbing up to – there are magnificent views of the whole area down to the coast, no doubt a significant factor in its original placing.
The hill where it is built, El Peñon (The Rock), had a military fortification on it for more than a 1000 years: from the Roman period up to its final use as one of the last strongholds of the Moors in Spain. However, the archaeological evidence documenting Roman occupation in the early centuries AD is scant, although remains of pottery and coins have been unearthed.
So far, we do not know the exact date of construction of the Moorish castle, although some authors suggest the 9th century: connecting it with the revolt of Omar Ben Hafsun against the Emir of Cordoba. Others give a date of the 11th century, coinciding with the construction of other similar enclosures by the Almoravid rulers.
Certainly, in the late 15th century, Frigiliana’s small settlement of farmers was protected by the strength of the Lizar fortress.
At this time there were regular raids of pirates along the eastern Mediterranean coast, sometimes in the service of Christian nobility, against which the forts along the coast were of little deterrence. However, in the presence of the Christian troops of Ferdinand and Isabella, little Frigiliana village had little choice but to surrender.
After the Battle at the Peñon in 1569, the total demolition of the castle was ordered by Don Luis de Requesens, Commander of Castile, with the blessing of King Philip II, in order that it could never be used again as a staging post for a Moorish revolt. So the only remains we can see today are some foundations and broken sections of wall (photo above) and the access ramp, leading up to the fortress.
The castle is roughly a mile from the old part of Frigiliana – but quite a walk, not really recommended for the very young or old, or disabled. Head up to the highest part of Frigiliana, around Calle de la Chorrera, and you will find a steep road going up to the right. Follow it up to the reservoir, and then it’s approximately 100 yards along a rough path to the remains of the castle. Tough going, and don’t expect a grand castle awaiting you, but at least the views are magnificent (photo above right)!
The Rio Higueron Gorge
Like with the castle (see above), for those not too averse to a little exercise then a walk up the Higueron Gorge is a must. In this case especially when visiting during the hotter summer months, because of the shade. It has a couple of steep ascents and descents, but is short and relatively easy.
From the square at the entrance to Frigiliana, Plaza del Ingenio, go left along the road that runs to the right of the Unicaja bank signposted Río Higuerón, that winds steeply down to the gorge below. Ford the river, then follow the course of this tumbling mountain stream upwards for nearly two kilometres along a path. On a hot day this is can be such a treat, being in the shade of pine and eucalyptus trees with the scent of thyme and rosemary blowing off the surrounding slopes of the Sierra Almijara and Tejeda mountains towering above. It really is a picturesque and beautiful setting for a walk.
After a while you’ll be walking along the gravel river bed of the Rio Higueron, and as it starts to get narrower you’ll find yourself either hopping across stepping stones or even wading in the cool waters of the stream as it meanders along. You can then turn back, or the fitter might like to climb up to the ridge first – which will afford you spectacular views back towards Frigiliana and the sea – before returning back along the river.
The Cave of Bats and the Dark Cave
Along the river el Rio Higueron, a few dozen metres from the village, you might spot the Cueva de los Murcielagos, meaning ‘Cave of the Bats’. This cave is of crucial importance to Frigiliana – not so much regarding the flying creatures it contains – but rather that it once housed the first human settlement in the area. Remains from the Neolithic Period, dating to around 3,000 BC, were found in it proving that Frigiliana and its environs has been fairly continuously inhabited since prehistoric times.
For decades the cave had been plundered of its archaeological content, but luckily, before it was totally lost or destroyed, a group of archaeologists excavated the cave in 1987 and therefore identified Frigiliana’s first crucial prehistoric sequence. The archaeological finds from this cave are now on display in Frigiliana’s museum.
There is a cave next to this, the so-called ‘Dark Cave’ (La Cueva Oscura), mentioned in the page on Ayo’s discovery of the Nerja caves. It measures approximately 30 metres deep from the entrance and is divided into a central vault with three rooms to the sides.
Both caves are difficult to get into, so if you wanted to visit them it would be best to talk to the tourist office first in the Casa del Apero, who might be able to recommend a professional guide to take you into them.
Frigiliana pages guide
Use the links below to explore what you can see and do in Frigiliana, what festivals take place through the year, and to read about the area’s fascinating history.