Frigiliana is a picture postcard perfect Andaluz village. At every turn of the narrow, cobble stoned streets there are typical Moorish-style white washed houses, their balconies and terraces virtually overflowing with colourful flowers and greenery of all kinds. There are intriguing little niches and archways, and breathtaking vistas of hillsides covered with avocado orchards and olive trees sloping down to the Mediterranean.
Frigiliana is only a few miles inland from Nerja, the most important holiday resort along this stretch of coast, and the village inevitably attracts hoards of tourists in the summer months. But for much of the year Frigiliana is a fairly quiet place.
Sizeable numbers of northern European expatriates have settled in the village itself and immediate surroundings, some to retire, some to run their own businesses; several of Frigiliana’s cafés, restaurants and shops are owned by foreigners.
Not only are Frigiliana’s streets endlessly photogenic, there are also a number of specific points of interest in the old Moorish-Mudejar part of the village, and private walking tours are offered by English and Scandinavian guides in various languages.
The first and most obvious site is ‘El Ingenio’, an old sugar factory just above the main car park and just below the entrance to the old quarter, and where today there is a restaurant specialising in barbecued meat dishes and a ceramics shop.The production of sugar from sugar cane, as well as molasses, honey and liquors, was a main local industry in the 19th century and up until the middle of the last century, when growing sub tropical products such as avocados and mangos became more important.
But it is the Moorish period which shaped Frigiliana, and Ceramic tiled plaques set into walls around the village tell the story of the village’s experiences of the times.
The hill above the village, known as ‘El Fuerte’, was the scene of the final bloody defeat of the Moors of La Axarquía in their 1569 rebellion, and on top of their hill there still a few remnants of the ruined Moorish fort.
The 17th century San Antonio church overlooking a pleasant plaza in the heart of the village is another of Frigiliana’s historic buildings. Built on the site of an old mosque, its bell tower had been the mosque’s minaret.
There is an entirely new part to Frigiliana too, with smart apartment blocks and some large villas, and architecturally very much in keeping with the original look of the village.And despite all the changes brought by tourism in the area, there are still plenty of ordinary villagers living in Frigiliana, and thanks to some tight local regulations the old part has in no way been spoilt, but rather has been perfectly preserved. Even shop signs have to be exactly in keeping with traditional styles, or must be taken in at night to ensure nothing spoils the aesthetics of this gem of a white village.
It comes as no surprise then that Frigiliana has received several awards for conservation and beauty.