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History of Istán

Diputación de Málaga
0284. El Paso de Istán

History of Istán

As for the original human settlements in Istan, there are indicators that lead to the possibility of there having been a Roman village here at some time. According to the information available, the presence of many farmsteads around the watchtowers or fortresses dates the place around the beginning of the 10th century. The defence system at that time counted on a series of watchtowers amongst which were; la Atalaya de Nargüeles, el Lastonar, Castillejo, Torre de Istán, Fuerte de Arboto y Venta Quemá.

However, it was the Arabs that had the most profound impact on the village, as can be seen quite clearly in the design of the white, narrow streets. A lot of the street names like; La Plaza de Armas, El Puerto de la Refriega or El Tajo Banderas have come out of the fighting between the Arabs and the Christian forces.

In 1506 all of the Moors who were inhabitants of Istan attempted to escape to the North of Africa, but were arrested at Rio Verde by the troops from Marbella after a bloody battle. The survivors of the battle were put in prison and stocks in the villages and all their property was confiscated by the Castille Crown. After the crushing of the Moorish uprising in 1569 the whole area suffered a process of depopulation, which was only corrected three years after when Felipe 2nd ordered that Christians from Madrid, Murcia y Extremadura should travel to the area and settle. The inhabitants of Istan are also known as "panochos", which was the language spoken by those whose came in response to the king’s edict.

This village sits on the skirts of the Sierra Blanca in a very desirable location some 14 kilometres from the coast, and near the city of Marbella. This means that the Costa Del Sol is a really important source of income for its economy. However, the most important resource in the municipality is the natural environment as the whole village is surrounded by beautiful landscapes full of Oak, pine, chestnut, and gall oak forests. The "Castaño Santo", which is 500 years old, is the most outstanding and impressive tree, and has been declared as a World Heritage. However, Istan would not be what it is if were not for the water that springs out of the mountain ranges and which gives birth to the “Rio Verde”. A six jet fountain is a daily reminder of the important presence of this most precious element that supplies water for the villages fountains and irrigation ditches in the country. There is a large washing place in Calle Chorro, which is covered by four arches and the water gathers there. In days gone by this place was a witness of much activity as many washed their clothes there. The village is so in debt to water that it has set up a Water Museum.

Within the urban layout of clean, charming streets some that stand out are; La Empedrada which you need to take a deep breath to go up, and at the end of the village the Tajo Banderas, which offers visitors impressive views with the background noise of the flowing water ever present. Then there is the views that the summit of the La Concha, in the Sierra Blanca, or the La Concepción reservoir, which both remind the visitor of the wonderful natural beauty of this village in the Sierra de las Nieves.