The small white village of Frigiliana, in the Axarquia region of the Costa del Sol, appears in lists of Spain’s most beautiful villages and is regularly voted Andalucia’s prettiest village by the tourism authority.
Only a few kilometres north of the tourist resort of Nerja, Frigiliana is on the local bus route. For those with vehicles, there is a large underground car park at the foot of the village. Frigiliana is best explored on foot.
A maze of narrow, winding streets, many stepped, take you up into the town. The Mudéjar style buildings are all white, as you would expect in a ‘white village’, enlivened by balconies and planters full of flowers. You will find small souvenir and artisan shops but not as many as you see in other places. Frigiliana is more discreet. Keep an eye open for shops selling the local pottery and ceramics, typically decorated with distinctive Arab designs. Whichever way you go you are likely to end up in the social focal point of the village, Plaza de la Iglesia, with its bars and restaurants. In summer, parasols shade the square from the fierce sun. Many of the bars you pass will sell the locally produced wine. The more you explore Frigiliana, the more you realise that it is much more Moorish than many other towns and villages in Andalucia.
After the reconquest in 1492, the Kingdom of Granada, that included the Frigiliana area, had barely 150,000 inhabitants, most of whom were Moriscos, former Moors that had nominally converted to Christianity. They were well integrated into the local communities. In many villages in the region the only ‘Old Christian’, i.e. Christians before the reconquest, was the village priest.
However, in 1567, Phillip II gave his approval to allow Moriscos to be persecuted in many ways, including house inspections and destruction of mosques, to make sure they were not continuing to practice Koranic rites. Not surprisingly the Moriscos resented these measures and in some areas, rebelled. The conflict became known as the War of the Alpujarras and lasted from 1568 – 71.
On the hill above Frigiliana, El Fuerte, stood a castle. The Moriscos retreated to the castle in June 1568 when the Spanish royalists laid siege to the village. In September the same year, rather than submit, it is said the Moriscos threw themselves off the towers.
Nearly 500 years later, the area still has sympathy for the Moors, and this can be seen at the Moorish, Christian festivals that are held in some of the villages and cities such as Almeria. In Frigiliana the ‘Festival de las Tres Culturas’ is celebrated over four days towards the end of August. The three cultures are Christian, Moorish and Jewish traditions.
Nick has lived and worked in Andalucia for over 20 years. He and his partner, Julie Evans, have travelled extensively and dug deep into the history and culture, producing authoritative articles on all aspects of the region. Nick has written four books about Andalucia and writes articles for other websites and blogs.
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Submitted by RAW on 22 Oct 2019
This looks so lovely. I am looking into various villages in the region with the view on moving there, so this looks worth going to :-)
Submitted by Moira Palmqvist on 22 Oct 2019
I would really like to visit this part of Andalusia - I live in Marbella but planning to come with some friends in the Spring time - any hotels you could suggest?
Submitted by Brian Neale on 22 Oct 2019
Looks like a very nice or even a lovely village or Pueblo. And I Do like the White Villages of Andalucia. Pueblos Blanca.
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