A day in Frigiliana, the perfect place to while away the day. Frigiliana is a beautiful white mountainside pueblo in the Costa del Sol region of Andalucia. The streets are steep and narrow and largely cobbled, which only adds to the beauty and authenticity of the village. However, it does mean that good footwear is recommended.
The houses, built in Mudéjar style are white, traditional and immaculate. They feature front doors in an array of tonal pastel colours. Villagers have been provided with a matching numbered tile for their door which adds to the uniformity. The streets are adorned with an abundance of colour from the geraniums and bougainvillaea. The cobbled streets are heavily patterned and add to the village’s beauty. Laid around 50 years ago replacing the largely gravelled streets – they are said to replicate the streets of centuries ago.
It is regularly voted the prettiest village in Andalucia by the Spanish Tourism authority. This makes it a very popular tourist destination, so it can get very busy with coach tours in high season. Despite this it totally manages to retain its charm and authenticity. Wander the streets and mooch around the many boutique shops, selling everything from artisan chocolate to local pottery. Our favourite shop is Space Whale, a shop of curiosities with amazing pieces for sale and wonderful smells. You will find many of their pieces in the Competa Escapes houses.
A Village of two halves
The village is divided into upper and lower neighbourhoods. Our blog focuses on the upper neighbourhood known as the Barribarto/Barrio Alto, upper district. This Mudéjar quarter of the city is of Moorish Architecture and centres around the Plaza de Iglesia. Calle Zacatin close to San Antonio church is the most photogenic street in Frigiliana. Its decorative cobbled steps are adorned with potted plants that only enhance their beauty. Another beautiful street is the Calle Penon which leads to the Vista Panoramica.
On your walks, look out for twelve large ceramic plaques which tell the story of the Moorish uprising and the battles fought in the area. They are wonderfully illustrated.
Places of historical interest
Palacio de los Condes or The Palace of the Counts
Also known as El Ingenio Mill – this impressive building marks the entrance to the village. Built late in the 16th Century by the Manrique de Lara family, Count and Countess of Frigiliana as their ancestral family home. It is in the Renaissance Style and was constructed using some materials from the Arab Castle.
The family owned a sugar cane plantation with a mill. The mill is now the only remaining cane honey (molasses) factory in Europe. It’s known now as the Nuestra Señora del Carmen.
The Church of San Antonio de Padua
The Iglesia de San Antonio was built in 1676 before being modified in the 18th century. It is built predominantly in the Renaissance Style and was adapted from the structure of an earlier mosque. The work was financed by the Count of Frigiliana and the architect was Bernardo de Godoy.
It is built in a fairly simply brick style, which does little to prepare you for its beautiful interior. Inside you will find ornate wood panelling and three naves separated by Roman arches. It has a three-floor bell tower or Minaret. The minaret itself and the first six metres of the façade are original. Many Christian churches in the area included a minaret for the call to prayer, the idea was adapted from mosques of the 16/17th century. You can see other examples in Competa, Colmenar, Salares and Torrox.
The Ermita del Santo Cristo de la Caña
It is known locally as Ecce Homo. The Hermitage of the Holy Christ of the Cane was built in the 18th century. The building itself is very simple and humble and is attached to the side of the mountain. It has a single nave and a wooden ceiling with a prominent atrium entrance.
Despite its simplicity, since the 16th Century, the hermitage has been a main player in the Easter Celebrations. On Ash Wednesday a procession starts here and wends its way to the Church of San Antonio de Padua.
Capilla de San Sebastián
The original San Sebastián Chapel was destroyed during the Civil War. Built in 1791 it was re-modelled in 2003 due to its importance to the village with San Sebastián being the patron saint of Frigiliana. In February the statue of the saint is carried in a procession to the church of San Antonio.
The chapel is located next to the village cemetery. It has distinguished stained glass windows.
The Palace of Apero or Casa de la Cultura
Built in the early 17th century, this is part of the complex of the Palace of the Counts. Here you will find the Tourist Office, historical archives, municipal library and the Museo Archeológico de Frigiliana. The rooms sit around an interior patio and it is built on two levels. It was formerly a granary, stables and warehouse. Its walls are formed from stones and mud, whilst its arches and pillars are created from bricks.
Museo Archeológico del Apero
Within the museum you will find artefacts such as a Neolithic skull, Phoenician vessels and Moorish weapons. It was the first archaeological museum in the Axarquia region. The main collection was found during excavations of the Cortijo de las Sombres, an Iberian-Phoenician necropolis.
Head up Calle del Penon to find the Vista which offers incredible views of the village, mountains and sea.
Click here for a great video of the walk to the Vista which showcases beautifully the cobbled streets of the pueblo and the view that awaits you.
Festival of Three Cultures
Celebrated since 2006, the festival takes place on the last weekend in August and is held over four days. The festival aims to highlight the three historically important Arabic, Christian and Sephardic cultures through food, art, music and displays. Around 20,000 people attend the event.
Thursdays and Sundays are a great time to visit! The show opens on a Thursday with a spectacular firework display which is repeated when it closes on the Sunday.
The ‘Market of Three Cultures’ is the focus, where numerous stalls sell food, and products belonging to all three cultures. The stalls are delightful, selling craft and artisan products. Spilling out from the market you will find a program of activities including strolling musicians, jugglers and street theatre artists. Along with belly dancers, story tellers and puppeteers. The area buzzes with life and vibrancy.
Music and Dancing
As well as the strolling musicians you fill find many concerts held in the Plaza and the Casa del Apero.
You can dance until the early hours to a DJ on Friday and Saturday night with folk music.
Ruta de la Tapa
Foodies will love the Ruta de la Tapa! This is actually two tapa tours, once Moorish and one Mudéjar. Follow the trail where many bars and restaurants offer different tapas for €2 each. You can collect a card with a map of the bars in the central square before starting. Make sure your card is marked by each bar you visit and at the end, if you have completed one of the tours you will receive a T-shirt!
Church of San Antonio de Padua
The church displays the images of the three cultures against its white walls during the festival.
Like Competa and many of the surrounding villages an annual Feria is held. Originally the Frigiliana Feria was held on the day of San Sebastian in January and was called La Función. But due to the January weather the Feria moved to June to coincide with its other patron saint, San Antonio.
The feria lasts for five days. It includes a foam party and a large water park featuring a water slide and inflatables. A highlight is the Romería, where villagers in fancy dress follow an ox cart through the village. The festival culminates in a fantastic firework display.
The Frigiliana Art Route
This takes place in October over four days. It provides a route for you to follow to see artists in houses and historical buildings within the village. There is always a fun atmosphere. It is on in the morning and afternoon but there is a break between 2pm & 4pm for lunch. In 2020 more than 40 artists of 14 nationalities were scheduled to present their works over 26 village locations. The works include pottery, sculpture, ceramics, mosaics and paintings. The paintings come in all sizes, so easy to purchase one small enough to fit in the suitcase.
A good day to visit..
Is a Thursday when the market is held in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the centre of the village. There are many stalls selling clothes, pottery, handbags and leather goods, art, jewellery, ceramics, local crafts and food.
Where is Frigiliana?
Frigiliana sits on the hillside around 57km from Malaga, the capital city of the Andalucia region. It’s 5 minutes North of the coastal town of Nerja and 27km (about 35 minutes) from Competa. You can get to Frigiliana via the mountain roads from Competa, or you can head down to the A7 and along one junction.
Our guests often enjoy our recommendation of combining a visit to Frigiliana with a trip to the Lost Village of Acebuchal. The Lost Village falls under Competa jurisdiction but actually sits closer to Frigiliana. We recommend driving to El Acebuchal from Competa and on leaving, depart at the other end and head into Frigiliana.
How do I get to Frigiliana?
From Competa take the Torrox Road out of the village to the A7/E15 and head towards Nerja. Travel for one junction until you reach the exit for Nerja/Frigiliana (exit 292). At the roundabout go left towards Frigiliana then straight over the next roundabout taking the MA-5105. Follow the winding (signposted road) until you reach Frigiliana. As you approach Frigiliana, take the left road, the road to the right goes through the centre of the village which can be busy and is narrow.
On the left, you will follow a road with some speedbumps. The road has great views out to your left. On coming to the roundabout in the village you will see a large municipal car park, which is the easiest place to park. There is free street parking, but spaces are not easy to find!
It is possible to make the journey by bus, but it is a little convoluted with a few changes required, so just ask us if you need help.
Competa Escapes Townhouses
They are two beautiful townhouses in the heart of Competa. Both featuring private plunge pools and fantastic views. Both two-bedroomed and ensuite but completely different. Heating and aircon throughout. Perfectly situated for all the bars, restaurants and activities in the area. Soon to be joined by a third townhouse with three en-suite bedrooms and a private rooftop pool. Please take a look at our website when considering your next holiday – Competa Escapes
With thanks to the following for photos:-
turismofrigiliana.es – festivalfrigiliana3cultures.com -bobshoesmith – jasonelliott-hyosunrosyko – danielebuso – jagodalcondratiuk-beckyvandijk-lola56-sarahdorweiler