Escalante Watchtower – Istán
The Escalante Watchtower is located in the historic center of the town of Istán, it is accessed by the Juana de Escalante Passage.
This is the oldest monument in the municipality. Its origins may lie in it having been one of the watchtowers which were used to defend Marbella to the north. The tower was used bouth for defensive purposes and to provide shelter for the local population.
The tower played a decisive role in two historic events involving Christians and Moriscos, the two peoples which lived side by side in the Kingdom of Granada during the 16th century:
- The first episode refers to the attempt to escape by the local population in May 1506. Following the defeat in the River Verde, all their estates and possessions were confiscated and given by royal order to the treasurer Francisco de Vargas. It was inside these walls that the act of appropriation was performed, following the established legal procedures of the time, by a representative of Vargas, who had been specially appointed to undertake the task.
- The second event took place on the 1st of January 1569 at the beginning of the Morisco uprising. As he didn´t legally own a house, Escalante lived in the tower which was designed as a defensive fortress. When he left for Marbella to tell of the uprising, the rebels tried to take the fort, robbing wheat, oil and other things which were stored beneath the main dome. They also tried to arrest the cleric´s niece, who managed to escape up to the first floor, and held off her assailants until the troops arrived from Marbella.
The tower was built around a square design, with an arch, vaulted ceiling and walls of rectangular stone. The main room was designed in the shape of a rectangle with two pendentives in the east wing halfway up th walls opening out into a fan shape in their upper parts and supporting the arches which form the dome.
Today, the only remaining evidence of the fortress are the site on which the tower stood, the round arch, and the courttard through which horses passed on their way to the municipal stables which have not survived.