Where to visit in Frigiliana...

Barribarto
Barribarto
alcaucin-zafarraya-cave
El Ingenio
El Ingenio
alcaucin-natural-park
Palace of Apero
Palace of Apero
Alcaucin-Las-Majadas
S Antonio de Padua
S Antonio de Padua
Alcaucin-Las-Majadas
S. Cristo de la Caña
S. Cristo de la Caña
Alcaucin-Las-Majadas
San Sebastián chapel
San Sebastián chapel
Alcaucin-Las-Majadas
Other gems...
Other gems...
Alcaucin-Las-Majadas
Further attractions
Further attractions

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Frigiliana, a delight even to the frequent visitor...

Frigiliana is very much a village in two halves, quite visibly divided between the old, original village and the part built in more recent years. While many will have a wander around the ‘new’ part, most visitors head for the ancient hub of the village, and with good reason. As mentioned before, this part has won many awards for its preservation, and its beautiful cobbled streets are a constant delight even for those that have visited Frigiliana many times.

Most of Frigiliana’s beauty spots are contained in an area that the locals call the ‘Barribarto‘, one of the best-preserved historical centres of Arabic origin in Spain. To help visitors understand the history of Frigiliana, there are a series of wall plaques telling the tale of the Reconquest, the violent battle that took place here, and the subsequent expulsion of the Moors.

One of the main buildings most people notice when first visiting Frigiliana is the El Ingenio, a large factory that was originally constructed at the end of the 16th century as a mansion. Incredibly, it is the only sugar factory left in Europe and one of only three working worldwide. An important place for tourists visiting Frigiliana is the Palace of Apero, which amongst other things houses an exhibition hall and the archaeological museum. If you have time, try to visit Frigiliana’s three churches, the impressive San Antonio de Padua iglesia, and the simple but attractive Santo Cristo de la Caña and San Sebastian chapels. There are also many interesting old buildings, fountains and archways dotted around the old part of the village to visit, like the Reales Positos, the Fuente Vieja, and El Torreon.

As ever, 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).

The Barribarto area

Barribarto calle

Calle El Zacatín

Barribarto calle

Probably most memorable about Frigiliana is the sheer beauty of its cobbled streets with their whitewashed houses garlanded with plants and flowers, and of course the views from them. And most of these beauty spots are contained in an area that the locals call the ‘Barribarto’, one of the best-preserved historical centres of Arabic origin in Spain, a place that never fails to impress and enchant the visitor. Barribarto is a contraction of ‘Barrio Alto’ (upper quarter), a description not actually exclusive to Frigiliana, as other villages in this part of Andalucia use it. The area is also known as the Barrio ‘Mudejar’; the Mudejars being a term used to describe the Moors who stayed in Spain after the reconquest but did not convert to Christianity. (It is also to a style of architecture and decoration in Spain that was strongly influenced by Moorish taste and craftsmanship).

The Barribarto’s patchwork of alleyways and narrow streets criss-crossing each other are certainly a reminder of the past influence of 750 years of Moorish culture. Throughout the whole of the district, few if any of the houses have regular walls or right-angled corners, they simply follow the contours of the land, so that if the builders encountered a particularly large stone outcrop, they simply incorporated it into the building! Unfortunately, only the houses now remain, nothing is left of the communal buildings which must have existed and would been of great importance to the community, such as the public baths, mosques, and religious (Islamic) schools.

There are a number of ways to get to the Barribarto area. Opposite the popular square, next to the church, you’ll encounter a set of steep and narrow steps, generously decorated with plants and flowers, which lead directly up into the area. Another popular way up to the Barribarto is via Calle El Zacatín (meaning ‘the clothes market’), without doubt one of the most emblematic and beautiful streets in Frigiliana. It’s a very steep climb, but while it might be tough on the legs it’s very easy on the eyes with its borders of plants and flowers, and little houses with plastered white walls. Moreover, it offers a view up to where Frigiliana’s Moorish castle once stood.

Once you’re up the Barribarto, you can follow Calle Amargura, which is like the main thoroughfare with all the other streets and alleyways branching off and meandering into every part of the Barribarto. Explore this delightful old district at a leisurely pace not only in order to notice all the little architectural details that makes this area so special – but because much of it is very steep!

El Ingenio

El Palacio de los Condes de Frigiliana, popularly called El Ingenio, was constructed at the end of the 16th century as a mansion by the Manrique de Lara, a nobleman of Málaga, who had held the lordship over Frigiliana since 1508.

It is in the Renaissance style and stands on 2000 square metres of land. Many of the prominent ashlars (dressed stone workings) of the building were collected from the destroyed arab castle. Dating from this period, and also later, can be seen balconies, wrought iron grills, sun dials as well as the beautiful mural paintings.

Later on the old mansion was turned into a sugar mill, something integral to the Axarquía region whose economy was based on sugar production for so many years. It was the place where locally grown sugar cane was transformed into a readily edible product, a factory producing molasses. Molasses in Spanish is called Miel de Caña, or literally ‘sugar cane honey’; it certainly has a texture similar to honey.

For centuries Frigiliana was known as a land of sugarcane farmers who made their type of honey for export. Apart from at the Ingenio, there were a number of stone mills in Frigiliana to grind the sugar cane, but in common with elsewhere in old Spain, technological innovations were minimal, and work was done manually and with great effort by very poor people. The process involved using rolls or mills that tightly compressed the canes, and then afterwards boiling the resultant juices in order to evaporate away the water, finally leaving the molasses.

Even though this has largely been replaced by tropical fruit growing, the Ingenio in Frigiliana is still in use, and in fact is the only sugar factory left in Europe, and incredibly, one of only three working worldwide. Today it is one of the main buildings most people notice when first visiting Frigiliana.

The Palace of Apero / Casa de la Cultura

Part of the complex that makes up the Condes de Frigiliana Palace, the Casa del Apero is an early 17th century building, restored in the 1990’s.

It is now a multipurpose centre housing the tourist office, municipal library, historical archives, an exhibition hall and the archaeological museum, an important place for tourists visiting Frigiliana.

It was originally used as a granary, stables and warehouse for storing field tools and machinery. Its rooms are placed around an interior patio and built in two levels.

Although the walls are made of stones and mud, the arches and pillars are constructed from bricks in the same way as the main entrance. It is a beautiful example of the architectural style from late 16th or early 17th centuries.

It is easily accessed, and has ample parking. Of particular interest is the Museo Arqueológico del Apero (the Archaeological Museum), taking visitors back to the oldest days of Frigiliana. The star collection comes from the excavations of the Cortijo de las Sombras Iberian-Phoenician necropolis, from which one can see ceramics, lithic implements, bones, coins, etc, on exhibition.

San Antonio de Padua church

Most people visiting Frigiliana will find their way to a small square, home to the main church of the village, la Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua. A focal point of Frigiliana’s religious life, it was built in 1676, adapting the structure of an earlier mosque. The work was financed by Manrique de Lara, lord of Frigiliana, and finished in 1696 by the architect, Bernardo de Godoy.

The minaret and the first six metres of the façade were left virtually unchanged. In fact the incorporation of the minaret, or tower for the call to prayer, was very common in Christian churches adapted from Mosques in the 16th and 17th centuries in the area; such as those to be found in Colmenar, Competa, Salares, Torrox, and Vélez-Málaga.

It was further renovated in the 18th century, and also more recently in 1976. It is almost entirely built in the Renaissance style, and many original frescos can still be seen throughout, as well as three excellent 17th century paintings from the School of Sevilla.

On the outside, the church has a simple brick façade with a semicircular arch and a three-level bell tower. While inside, the ground plan is the Latin cross, divided into three naves separated by pilasters, covered by a wooden framework.

There is an 18th century wooden statue of San Anton, a highly venerated figure in the town. The sacristy has a beautiful Rococo chalice, made of silver, from the 18th century. There is also a plaque at the entrance that details the story of its construction. Saint Anthony of Padua (1195-1231), was the patron saint of travellers, Sailors and Fishermen.

Santo Cristo de la Caña hermitage

The Ermita del Santo Cristo de la Caña (Hermitage of the Holy Christ of the Cane) as it is known locally, or the chapel of Ecce Homo, dates from the 18th century.

It’s a very simple building with a single nave with a wooden ceiling.

La Ermita del Ecce Homo takes a prominent part in the Easter celebrations when there is a procession from the chapel to the Church of San Antonio de Padua. On Ash Wednesday there is a procession from the chapel to the Iglesia de San Antonio with a carving of Ecce Homo, a painting on wood of Jesus being given up to the mob by Pilate.

The procession through the streets of various Christian effigies has been a tradition in Frigiliana since the 16th century, although it is difficult to establish exactly when the neo-barroque effigies that are carried through the streets nowadays were made.

San Sebastián chapel

The San Sebastián chapel (Capilla de San Sebastián), is another important religious site in Frigiliana, though it was largely destroyed during the Civil War. The present hermitage was remodelled later in 2003, largely because of the importance of San Sebastián to Frigiliana – its patron saint. The stained glass windows were painted by the women of the ‘El Abanico Andaluz’ association. 

The hermitage is located right next to the village cemetery, and both are accessed under a portico with half-pointed arches on pillars and a hipped roof with interior woodwork. It was originally built in 1791, and at that time was on the outskirts of the town. During that time there was no cemetery around it, because the old parish one was still in operation. However, with all the calamities of the early nineteenth century (plagues, famine, etc), there was an unfortunate need for more places of burial, so its grounds were slowly developed as a cemetery. 

The chapel plays an important role in the San Sebastían festival in February, when the statue of San Sebastián is taken from here and then processed to the San Antonio church.

Other gems to look out for...

As you’re wandering around Frigiliana keep your eyes open for some real architectural gems. There are the wall plaques illustrating the early history of the village; a beautiful old fountain, La Fuente Vieja; an ancient tower, El Torreon; what was the village grain store, Los Reales Positos; and of course, the charming cobbled streets.

Reales Positos
The Reales Positos were royal grain storehouses constructed in 1767 where surplus grain was stored and later distributed during years when grain production was poor. Although the silos are mentioned in records from 1749 onwards, it is quite possible that they date from 1640, the year in which Frigiliana was declared an independent village. Nowadays, though the silos have been replaced by privately owned houses, shops, and bars, much of the old structure remains. Still very prominent are the original red brick arches on its facade; its less visible basement chambers are underneath. 
Fuente Vieja
La fuente vieja (‘the old fountain’) dates from the 17th century, constructed by Don Inigo Manrique de Lara, fifth Lord of Frigiliana and first Count of Frigiliana in 1640. The family coat of arms can still be seen on the fountain. It was built in order to provide water for the village and as a watering trough for animals. The Fuente Vieja is attached to the back of a house on Calle Choruelo, in the old part of the town.
El Torreon
El Torreon, built in the middle of the 18th century, is another former silo, now part of a house. Accessed through an archway and a plant-lined passageway that leads onto a picturesque courtyard. Although it was originally thought to be of Arabic construction, because it does not bear any similarities to architectural styles of this period, it is now thought more probable that it was converted from an 18th century watch tower.
Cobbled streets
Another very emblematic feature of Frigiliana is it's beautiful cobbled streets,  constructed using classic Moorish patterns. It is very easy to think that they are a relic from the past, something to assist laden donkeys trying to clatter up the steep streets. Unfortunately, the truth is rather more prosaic, because they were in fact laid only 40 - 50 years ago! Before that, Frigiliana's streets were composed mainly of gravel. However, it could well be that several hundred years ago one or two of the main street surfaces were decorated in this typically Moorish geometric style.
Commemorative plaques
When visiting the old part of Frigiliana you will see a series of twelve ceramic tile panels (in Spanish). They are mostly dotted around the Barribarto area and tell the tale of the Catholic reconquest of Andalucía, the persecution of the Moors, and their expulsion from their beloved Al-Andalus in 1569. Perhaps in honour of the Moors, it was decided to use Moorish techniques and colours, such as ivory whites, green and brown black glazes, in the making of the panels. The ceramist was Pilar García Millan. As you walk around the town, you can read each chapter and learn what happened, especially about the final battle between the Christians and the Moors.

Further attractions nearby Frigiliana

For the fit and active, there are some great walks to be had using Frigiliana as a base. That’s why we’ve dedicated a page to them.

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 at the Tourist Office (see Palace of Apero above), to arrange for a guide to help you visit one of the small caves along the gorge.

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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.

Where to visit.
Acebuchal---factory
S Antonio de Padua
Acebuchal---factory
algarrobo - santa ana
Acebuchal---factory
Acebuchal---factory
Palace of Apero
S Cristo de Caña
Reales Positos
El Torreon
San Sebastian
Image is not available
Image is not available
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El Ingenio
Fuente Vieja
Barribarto
Further Attractions.
Acebuchal---factory
Rio Higueron Gorge
Image is not available
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Caves
Castillo de Lizar
What's on.
Acebuchal---factory
Nerja Feria
Candelaria
Acebuchal---factory
what's on Nerja
what's on Nerja
algarrobo - santa ana
What's on in Nerja Virgen del Carmen Fiesta
Three Kings
San Antonio
Image is not available
Image is not available
3 Culturas Fiesta
Dia de Caballo
Carnival
Semana Santa
San Sebastian
Miel de Caña Day
History.
Acebuchal--scenic
Alfarnate-history
Main page.
What's on in Frigiliana 3 Cultures
Visiting Frigiliana Church

Main page
Further Attractions
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