Frigiliana has deep Muslim roots which have been embodied in its urban layout with its narrow streets and steep slopes. Frigiliana was prominent in the history of Spain during the Moorish uprising. The village houses are some of the most authentic expressions of traditional Arabic architecture in Spain: The Moorish or Barrio Alto neighbourhood.
Settled since 3,000 years before the birth of Christ, Frigiliana was also the area in which the Phoenicians and then the Romans established themselves, the latter fortifying the town and giving it the name by which it is known today, but it is to the IXth and Xth centuries A.D. that we must look for the settlement of the site of today’s village, with the construction of a hilltop castle (long destroyed) around which houses began to be built. This settlement was know during the period of the Caliphate as Hins Challana, and in the days of the Nasrid Dynasty of Granada as Fixmiana.
Frigiliana played an outstanding role in the history of Spain during the Morisco uprisings of the Islamic era, and the imprint of this time canstill be seen in the tangible form of its narrow streets and steep alleyways. One of the most authentic examples of traditional arab architecture from this time in Spain is to be encountered in the streets of the Morisco Quarter or Barrio Alto.
Like so many other villages of the Axarquía and the Alpujarras, the principal economic activity was the production of silk, oil, grapes and figs.
Immediately after the fall of the Kingdom of Granada during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs, the people continued retained their Muslim faith, and their style of life did not materially change. However, over time the harmonious coexistence of the Morisco subjects and their Christian rulers began to fall apart, in large measure due to the excessive taxes demanded of the Moriscos, and the increasing restrictions place on their religious and cultural practices. As a consequence, and in common with the other Morisco communities, the people of Frigiliana rose up in rebellion against royal authority.
The hill and castle of Frigiliana dominated the Sierra de Almijara, located as they were in terrain which was extremely difficult to access, and so was easily defended. It is not surprising that this was where a large group of Morisco rebels chose to take refuge in the year 1568, and that it was here that a great battle took place. The Christian troops, led by Luis de Requesens defeated the Moriscos who were expelled from their territories and exiled across the Peninsula, their place being taken by “old Christians” rom other areas of Spain, who were sent to repopulate Frigiliana.
During the XVIIth century suffered a period of stagnation, its population numbering barely 100 people. In May, 1640 Iñigo Manrique de Lara was created Count of Frigiliana. La expulsión de los moriscos hizo que se abandonara la producción de seda, siendo a partir de entonces el cultivo de la caña de azúcar su actividad principal, de la que se conserva aún el Ingenio, edificio del siglo XVI. De esta época son también construcciones como el Palacio del Apero o la Iglesia de san Antonio.