What to do and what to see in Frigiliana

The municipality of Frigiliana with 40 km² , is located on the southern slope of the Sierra de Almijara and the east within the region known as La Axarquía, in the province of Málaga. The town is located 350 meters above sea level and 6 km from Nerja.

Possibly, Frigiliana is one of the most beautiful villages in Andalusia, where you can get a unique panoramic view of the coast. Only 50 km west is the city of Málaga and, approximately, an hour and a half by car from the Granada city. In addition, it is part of the so-called Sun and Wine Route.

Taking a car ride from Frigiliana to Torrox along the Loma del Pedregal is a real dream, where you will have the opportunity to get unique views to the town, mountains, coast and, in general, the valley where Frigiliana is located.

The relief of Frigiliana, quite abrupt in the north, is the beginning of the Sierra de Almijara, although points such as the Sierra de Enmedio (1171 m) and El Fuerte (976 m) also stand out. As you move south, the green staggered subtropical trees orchards begin the descent to the coast, contrasting with the blue colour of the Mediterranean Sea. Its lands are bathed by the River Chillar, that furrow them in the east, being a natural limit with the municipality of Nerja and making beautiful waterfalls and gullies very appropriate for the lovers of the canyoning. Its main tributary is the River Higuerón, which crosses Frigiliana through from north to south, leaving beautiful places like the Hoces del río Higuerón, of enormous landscape value.

Frigiliana is surrounded by three municipalities of the province of Málaga, Cómpeta in the north, Nerja in the east and south, and Torrox in the west.

History of Frigiliana

Frigiliana was occupied in prehistoric times, as is shown by the archaeological remains found in the Cave of the Bats. This confirms the presence of man in this territory from the end of the Neolithic (3000 years BC) until the Chalcolithic (2000 years BC). Also the presence of a menhir and a necropolis located in the Cerrillo de las Sombras, very close to the old town, shows us the human presence in these lands during the Phoenician era (VII-VI centuries BC).

Later, the Romans occupied Frigiliana around the second century BC. It is thought that the name of Frigiliana is from Roman origin, after joining the name Frexinius, from a Roman man, with the suffix -ana, which together could mean something like "village of Frexinius".

The period of Arab occupation was the one that permeated the municipality of its current Moorish legacy, which is the best preserved exponent with the intricate layout of streets, alleys, covered passageways and stairs throughout La Axarquía. This is because from the arrival of the Arabs to the peninsula in 711 until the surrender in front of the Christian troops in 1485, Frigiliana lived under the dominion of this culture.

After the Christian occupation and after the publication of the Royal Pragmatic of Felipe II, the Moors were deprived of the few rights they had. But in 1569 the rebellion broke out and the Moors of La Axarquía and the Montes de Málaga took refuge in El Fuerte of Frigiliana, waiting for the help promised by Aben Humeya from the Alpujarra Granadina and north of Africa and where they reached meet around 7,000 Moors. In this place a cruel and bloody Battle of the Rock of Frigiliana was fought between Moors and Christians where there were more than 2500 casualties between victors and vanquished. The story of those days, as well as the final expulsion of the Moors in the whole area, can be read in the twelve ceramic panels scattered throughout the old town of Frigiliana.

In the 17th century, Frigiliana obtained the title of Villa under the reign of Felipe IV. By the middle of the 19th century, it already had more than 3000 registered inhabitants. However, the yellow fever epidemics, the 1884 earthquake and the phylloxera plague, decimated this number until the twentieth century, and it wasn't until the arrival of tourism when the municipality achieved greater prosperity.

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What to see in Frigiliana

One of the main attractions of Frigiliana is its old town with Arab origin, it has one of the purest structures in the province of Málaga. Its layout follows an axis with narrow perpendicular or parallel streets that are communicated through covered passageways, some staggered and others that were equipped with doors that were usually closed isolating some areas of others to reinforce Frigiliana's defense.

The easiest way to start seeing everything that involve the old town of Frigiliana is from El Ingenio Square or 3 Cultures Square, depending on whether you arrive by car or by bus. A few meters from these squares you will see the Palace of the Counts of Frigiliana, which was built in the 16th century, with a clear Renaissance style and, later, it was converted into an factory for the manufacture of cane sugar. This is why it is also known as El Ingenio.

When you begin to explore the historic center of Frigiliana you will have the opportunity to obtain impressive panoramic views from its viewpoints and to appreciate the Royal Granaries, built in 1767 with the purpose of storing the surplus of grain, and El Torreón, where the granary was located in the middle 18th century.

Before arriving at the Church Square you can see the Remains of the Castle of Lizar, which is thought that was built between the ninth and eleventh centuries, and was destroyed by Christians in 1569 with the aim of trying to destroy all heritage of the Moorish culture. But once you reach the square, you will see the Church of St. Antonio de Padua built in the second half of the seventeenth century on a chapel and renovated a century later. In its exterior, the facade with entrance under a semicircular arch framed in pilasters, stands out and in its interior a sculpture in polychrome wood of St. Antonio from the 18th century and an altarpiece of the Sacred Heart.

Continuing through the old town of Frigiliana you will reach the Old Fountain, from the 17th century and built by Íñigo Manrique de Lara, lord of Frigiliana, to, later, find the Hermitage of Ecce-Homo, known among the neighbors as the Hermitage of "Holy Christ". This small hermitage was built in the 18th century and is built on a single nave covered with simple framework.

From here you can go to Barribarto area within the old town of Frigiliana where the streets maintain the structure of the Moorish era and are adorned with flowers and utensils of esparto and ceramics. Its name comes from the deformation of its original name "Barrio Alto", which means “High Neighborhood” and it is recommended that the quiet walk to appreciate the different details that contain its streets. In this place, is El Zacatín Street where you will see twelve panels that tell the Battle of the Rock of Frigiliana.

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What to do in Frigiliana

Frigiliana will offer you activities to do from the moment you arrive in its old town. A few meters from the El Ingenio Square you can make a visit to the Archaeological Museum - House of the Tool where you will learn all about the origins of Frigiliana, thanks to the dissemination, promotion of knowledge, protection and conservation of the cultural and historical heritage of the municipality that this museum makes.

Without having to get too far away you will be able to get into nature within the town through the Botanical Garden of St. Fiora, which is worth visiting since it tries to gather a sample of all the plants that have been useful throughout the history of the inhabitants of Frigiliana. It was inaugurated in 2010 and includes plants for food, healing, basketry, manufacture of footwear, paper or perfumes, silk industry, etc. It also has a petanque track for you to enjoy this sport.

The contact with nature may not be enough for you. If this is the case, there are different hiking routes around the municipality of Frigiliana such as the Frigiliana - Cahorros of the River Higuerón Route, which runs through the River Higuerón riverbed, tributary of the River Chillar. It starts from the old town of Frigiliana and, although most of the route is through the municipality, it also runs through the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park.

Another hiking route to do on your visit to Frigiliana is the Nerja to Frigiliana Route, which is the fifth stage of the Great Path of Málaga and runs between the valleys of the River Higuerón and the River Chillar. Its starting point is in Maro, a district of the municipality of Nerja very close to the Caves of Nerja.

You can also do the Frigiliana - Fuente del Esparto Route that begins in the urban area of Frigiliana and from there it goes to the River Higuerón, through the Pozo Batán. From here the tour goes to Cruz del Pinto, where you will find stunning views to Sierra de Almijara and Mediterranean Sea. Once crossed this area you will reach the canyon of the River Chillar where the Vulture Nest Peak, Tajo del Sol and Tajo del Almendrón stand out. Once the descent of the River Chillar is finished you will reach Collado del Apretadero where Fuente del Esparto is located. The distance of this trail is 5.5 kilometers with a medium/high difficulty and an estimated duration of 2 hours.

In the municipality of Frigiliana there are others routes that you can do such as the Frigiliana - Al Cóncar Route, Frigiliana - Lomas del Chillar - Cruz de Félix Route, Frigiliana - El Fuerte Route, Frigiliana - Cruz de Pinto Route, Frigiliana - Venta Cebolleros Route, Frigiliana - El Acebuchal Route and Frigiliana - La Lastra Route.

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Traditional festivals and celebrations in Frigiliana

Along the year, there are numerous occasions to immerse yourself in festivals and traditions of Frigiliana, whether in the most local and traditional festivals or in large events with international coverage.

Chronologically in the year, the first celebration in Frigiliana is St. Sebastian Day, on January 20. This festivity consists of a mass in honor of the saint with a procession that takes place at the end of it, in the procession the neighbors pay tribute with colorful fireworks along the entire route.

Between the months of February and March, Carnival takes place. This is a young celebration that has had a great reception among neighbors and visitors. It is marked by the beginning of Lent for Holy Week, which in Frigiliana begins on Friday of Sorrows with the procession of Our Mother and Lady of Sorrows, being the popular days Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. The most native procession of Frigiliana is with the Virgin of Solitude.

Later, May Crosses are celebrated. In them, tribute is paid to the season of flowers. It congregates every year a large number of visitors, who are attracted by the spectacular beauty streets adorned with wonderful flower-covered crosses. The festivity is accompanied by the municipal band, which with the band of verdiales and the group of choirs and dances visiting all the crosses, honoring with their performances. The celebration continues in the Church Square with a open-air dance that lasts well into the early morning.

Almost in summer, specifically on June 13, you will find the St. Antonio Fair which is at the same time the Frigiliana Fair and is in honor of its patron's day. It is during five days with different activities and competitions, highlighting the enclosure of heifers at dawn that is normally held on the Sunday during the fair with great public assistance from all places in La Axarquía. On this date the pilgrimage is also celebrated in which the neighbors and visitors accompany St. Antonio to the enabled area next to the River Higuerón and enjoy a meal in the countryside. The festivities end with amazing fireworks.

Finally, between mid and late August, the 3 Cultures Frigiliana Festival takes place. It has an international reach and is an event that allows the meeting of different cultures. In it, Latin American, African and Eastern countries groups among others, besides the national groups, show their traditions and customs through popular dances.

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Gastronomy of Frigiliana

Before referring to the typical dishes of this municipality, we must mention the different classic products of Frigiliana, natural from this land. Some of them are cane honey, virgin olive oil, muscat broths from their vineyards, fresh vegetables from the garden and goat meat. This latter has different varieties of preparation, goat with garlic, fried or with a variety of sauces, among which the goat with almond sauce stands out.

Among the most native cuisine of Frigiliana you have to try one of the different stews offered by both the municipality and the region of La Axarquía. The most typical are cabbage stew, fennel stew and Holy Week stew. Classic crumbs with Mediterranean fish, vegetables, sausage or blood sausage are also common.

To finish sweetening your visit to Frigiliana you can try the arropía or the marcochas, typical handmade sweets with cane honey. However, this is not the only use of cane honey is also used to make delicious sweet potatoes with honey or to add it to products such as crème caramel, yogurts and fruits.

You must not forget that Frigiliana belongs to the Sun and Wine Route within the region of La Axarquía. In this way, you can deduce that wine represents an important role in the gastronomy of the municipality, accompanying its dishes. These wines produced in private wineries, are known as local wines and have different types of colour scheme and graduation.

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