Istan is a small picturesque town situated on the slope of the Sierra de Las Nieves mountain range with an estimated population of fifteen hundred people. The town looks down on neighboring valleys of rivers Verde and Molinos. From its upper districts, there is an amazing view of the mountain ranges and Embalase de la Concepcion dam. The town is located only 15 km from the coast and a cosmopolitan Marbella.

 

A bit of history

Istan was created during the dominance of the Moorish culture in Andalusia, namely in fifteenth century when the greatest clashes between Christians and Muslims happened. At that time, La Torre Escalante was built and it served as a crucial security structure protecting northern regions of Marbella. Today, its ruins are one of the most important tourist attractions of Istan.

Among memorable dates, there is year 1506 in which Istan moriscos (a name used to call Muslims converted to Christianity) attempted to flee, but instead got caught by soldiers of Marbella near Rio Verde, a green river…Later, in 1569, the last Muslim rebellion on this land was suppressed. As a result, king Phillip II issued an order to completely desolate the area and bring Christian families from Murcia and Extremadura to Istan. This is the reason why istanenos – the inhabitants of Istan are also known there as panochos, a word originated from a language used by travellers from Murcia many centuries ago. 

There are many places in which bloody encounters had occurred and were commemorated. Today, they evoke the history from many centuries ago and they include La plaza de Armas, El Puerto de la Rafriega and El Tajo Banderas

Without a doubt, Istan owes multiple fountains spouting fresh and ready-to-drink water to Arab architects. Each of them is ornamented with traditional azulejos and up to 1970s, they served as the only source of drinking water for the town inhabitants. The largest fountain, Fuente y Lavadero El Chorro, also serves as a public laundry. An abundance of aquifereous layers hidden beneath Istan contributed to naming the area Manantial de la Costa del Sol – a spring of the sun coast. 

 

Must-see places
  • La Iglesia de San Miguel – a sixteenth-century church with interesting paintings from the seventeenth century
  • La Torre Escalante – a true symbol of the town. It was built to protect the northern side of Marbella. It is situated on the highest area of the town. 
  • La Ermita de San Miguel – San Miguel hermitage is situated in a cave a few kilometres away from a historic centre of the town. Inside, there is a figurine of the patron of the town. 
  • El mirador natural del Tajo Banderas, El mirador de la casa de la juventud, El  mirador de la calle azufaifo y del peñón – from those vantage points, you can see amazing views of the mountain ranges, nearby dam and sinuous rivers down below. 
  • El Museo de Agua – the purpose of the local museum of water is to spread around the importance of water resources of the Sierra de las Nieves Mountain Park. 

 

Something for wildlife lovers

Istan is a starting point of multiple interesting mountain trails, but there are other attractions as well (look at the map of attractions below and minimize the view to see the marked point that are worth visiting).

  • Nacinamiento del Rio Molinos – a charming place, perfect for a walk. 
  • Reaching the top of Pico de la Concha (Sierra Blanca) – this distinctive mountain is very well known by inhabitants of Marbella. 1215 metres tall (above sea level) Pico de la Concha is a special vantage point offering a view of Marbella and the local area, even the coasts of Morocco and Gibraltar. From the other side, we can see strings of valleys and mountains advancing inland. The ascent leads through vast forests full of chestnuts, cherry trees, firs, olive trees, and a variety of pines. I do not recommend climbing the mountain during summer. 

    Route from Istan to Pico de la Concha (Sierra Blanca)
  • A trip to El castaño santo – it is a great idea to go for an autumn walk to the forest. Despite a long trip, a sight of a holy chestnut tree will impress every wildlife lover. During eighty years of the tree’s life, its circumference reached 13 meters! 


     

 

What to eat?

This inconspicuous town offers delicious local cuisine. 

  • Sopa de tomate – a tomato soup
  • Sopa de maíz – a corn soup
  • Gazpachuelo malagueño – not to be confused with gazpacho; it is a creamy fish soup with seafood, egg, lemon and potatoes. 
  • Berza – a stew with a vegetable mix base consisting of cabbage, onion, green beans, garlic and green pepper. It also includes chorizo and pork boiled in tomato sauce. 
  • Migas – bread crumbs fried in olive oil with an addition of vegetables and meat. 
  • Conejo frito – a fried rabbit 

 

There are various bars and restaurants in the town – everyone will find a good place for themselves. I recommend Restaurante El Barón which serves delicious local cuisine. 

Local cuisine recipes can be also found in CUISINE tab. 

Istan is a real oasis among sun burnt – especially in summer – Andalusia land. It is not a place swimming in tourists who are looking for attractions. It is a calm place in which you can clear your head and listen to the sound of water spouting from fountains. Beautiful sights, cold and delicious water springing directly from montane underground, orange trees decorated with fruit… it is worth coming to Istan, it really is…
 

How to get there
 

A bus from Marbella runs 3 times a day.

  • From Istan to Marbella: 09:15, 16:00 and 19:45

  • From Marbella to Istan: 08:30, 15:15 and 19:00

 

 

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