El Ingenio de Frigiliana

Palace of the Counts of Frigiliana

After the sixteenth century , the Manrique de Lara , who owned the manor of Frigiliana and their lands from 1508 , built their ancestral home.

It is a large building, Renaissance style . It occupies an area of ​​more than 2,000 square meters and was built in part with materials from the Arab castle.

Today you can still see the chapel, halls, stairs, roof, doors, fittings, stables as they were more than four hundred years ago. On the façade, the beautiful sgraffito, the old grilles, the balconies, the sundial and the niches, which were consecrated to San Raimundo and the Virgen del Carmen (the containers of honey bear this name) .

In 1930 Don Manuel Falcó and Álvarez de Toledo , Count of Frigiliana, made deed of sale of their properties in these places, for the amount of 140,000 ptas, in favor of the family of the Tower and since then they are the owners of the Ingenio.

The shield that belonged to the Montellano, successors in the county of Frigiliana, whose title dates back to 1705 was on the facade of the Ingenio. Recently, the “Society of the Tower” donated it to the town hall and it was placed in the pediment of the fountain located on Calle Real above number 11. 

Cane honey. The only remaining factory in Europe markets this product in supermarket chains and exports to six countries, 300 tons per year

Frigiliana is a beautiful small town in the province Malaga in the region of Axarquía. Nestled among the whitewashed houses and the steep hills lies El Ingenio Nuestra Señora del Carmen, the only molasses (or cane honey) factory in Europe, which has been running for close to three hundred years.

The Ingenio Nuestra Senora del Carmen de Frigiliana, owned by the company De la Torre SA, is the only factory active in cane honey in Europe, after the Azucarera Guadalfeo closed its doors in 2006, in Salobreña (Granada) ). The Axarquía locality thus keeps alive an agricultural and industrial tradition introduced by the Arabs more than eleven centuries ago, with the manufacture of the ‘black honey’ (the juice of the sugarcane filtered and cooked), and that after the splendor of the century XIX and the first half of the XX, with dozens of mills scattered throughout the Malaga coast, began to disappear towards the sixties of last century.

The interior

The interior layout of the Ingenio has several areas. Currently, on the ground floor, the interior spaces are used to distribute the production needs of the cane honey factory.  Renovation works were needed on the ground floor which was used for the dispose of the waste produced by processing ​​the molasses. Now the area houses decantation tanks, the labeling and packaging etc.

The room to the right of the main entrance that is now a warehouse was formerly a chapel, where mass was given since 1662 by permission of Pope Clement X to the counts. As we enter the Ingenio we access a large central warehouse where today the functions of a loading and unloading take place.

On your left a small room opens where the production and packing of the honey takes place.

Next we have the “kitchen”, where cane honey is made. Some of the machinery is still in operation and is suitable for artisanal production. The 2 boilers, one of one of which is a wood-fed boilers that is preserved, brought from a ship in 1959, while the other was recently changed to a modern one fueled by diesel oil.

The second floor that corresponds to the line of balconies, is accessed by a wide staircase, there are several large rooms, originally intended for the private areas of the counts. Behind these rooms, is an old oil mill that remains complete.. with its machinery, press, pools, pipes, etc., although it is not in use is . The two chimneys that correspond to these spaces stand out in the profile of the building.

The exterior

The main façade draws attention to the decoration of the façade through paintings and graffiti with geometric motifs that run along the façade. This mural decoration is organized in bands, showing different diamonds, rectangles in earth and blue tones. The decoration of the facade is one of the most significant features of the Villa de Frigiliana, and is related to other elements such as the two niches in which you could see sculptures of the Virgen del Carmen and San Raimundo, and at least two sundials clearly.

Centuries ago, the mill was powered bu water, you can still identify in the Aqueduct, which falls from the hill of Lizar through ditches, passing before the three mills above the De Enmedio and the De Abajo, which are on the Ingenio hillside.

The Process


At the end of the 20th century, molasses began to disappear from the meadows of Malaga, which meant sugarcane juice, the main ingredient in this type of honey which is obtained by using rollers or mallets to press the cane, had to be imported from Central America.


At the end of the 20th century, molasses began to disappear from the meadows of Malaga, which meant sugarcane juice, the main ingredient in this type of honey which is obtained by using rollers or mallets to press the cane, had to be imported from Central America.

In El Ingenio factory, the process is still artisanal. The sugarcane juice goes through the first filtering here and is cooked in pailas, large double bottomed pans that hold steam at 120ºC, the resulting syrup is filtered again and goes to a vacuum concentrator where the master honey maker runs it through a series of tests and then removes it from the heat when it has reached the correct thickness. 

The end product is one hundred percent natural, with no additives or preservatives and lasts indefinitely, thanks to its high concentration of sugar, although for health regulations, it is labeled with a “consume by” date of five years.

Using the same 18th century methods, today between 300 and 400 tons of molasses are turned out annually and are sold in Spain, a good part of Europe and to large clients like Israel.

So the “black honey,” as it is known in the region, will be part of the most exquisite dishes—mixed, drizzled on tender shoots of lettuce or acidic fruits, on the popular fried aubergine and with tougher meats like goat and lamb.

A bit of advice: the darker it is, the better it tastes and the more nutrients it will have.

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