Istán is about 20 minutes from Marbella, is located this lovely town of Málaga tinging with white the slopes of the green and spectacular Sierra Blanca in a bright contrast. lstán is a synonym for spring; springs that flow through the many fountains that the village has and because of this Istán is so particular. We can observe that Istán has amazing views to the Concepción Reservoir.
The origins of Istán go back to the middle of XIV century, when, after the capture of the Castle of Arboto by Christians, their defenders escaped fortifying in the present-day place of Istán. At the end of XVI century, when broke out the rebellion of the Moorish, their inhabitants joined to the revolt, being later defeated by the troops of Ponce de León.
Geographical Location: to the North of Western Costa del Sol, Istán on the Valle del Guadalhorce and the one of Ronda. The village is located to 300 metres above sea level; it is 72 kilometres from the capital and 13 kilometres from the coast. The average rainfall is 930 l/m2 and the average temperature is 16º C
Church of San Miguel
Fountain and Sink El Chorro
San Miguel Chapel
Natural Viewpoint of Las Herrizas
Natural Viewpoint of Tajo Banderas
El Peñón Viewpoint
Source of the River Molinos
Maize Soup, Gazpachuelo, Cabbage, Fried Breadcrumbs, Boiled Soups, Fried rabbit, Alfajor ring-shaped cake of wine, Red mullet, Zahínas, etc
How to get there
Because of its proximity to the coast (to13 kilometres), the journey from the coast to Istán can be made in 15 or 20 minutes from the Motorway that passes along Costa del Sol. You have to depart from the Motorway AP-7 (N-340), and through Puerto Banús, next to Marbella, you have to take the Motorway A-6206 that leads you to Istán.
Distances from Istán
Marbella 19 km
Málaga 60 km
Estepona 35 km
Torremolinos 57 km
Fuengirola 46 km
El Chorro is an irrigation ditch which water comes from the Ressalam -as the muslims named the source of the Molinos river. There is documentary evidence on El Chorro since the late XV Century.
It´s purpose was to supply villagers with drinking water, so it was built to flow through the main streets in Istán. Spare water was used to irrigate vegetable gardens.
Until 1953, when the stone sink was built, the washing place was at ground level. It was last improved in the late XX Century. It wa the only fountain in town for centuries.
Up to 1520, there were a track, a small square and some mulberries in this area. A house and a vegetable garden stood where the church is now.
Once the church was raised, houses started to be built around it.
San Miguel Arcangel Parish Church
The interior is a single nave with side chapels containing paintings from the 18th century. Of most interest on the outside is the arched-brick entrance and the Baroque steeple built on one corner, wich houses the bells.
Juana de Escalante Passage
This passage is located in the centre of the muslim town, made up by the farmhouse tower, the mosque and the stables.
In the night of December the 31st, 1568, the Moorish of Istán did rebel. At daybreak they had knowcked on the master Escalante´s door for him to give extreme unction to a sick woman, but he refused to. At dawn he went to the church to see what was happening, but in his way he found Huzmin and his wife, who would let him know about the rebellion. Then he decided to depart to Marbella and report. While he was away, the rebels did take the tower and steal the wheat in it. They also tried to capture Juana de Escalante and her maid, but the girl reached the first floor and tried to repel the moorish with some stones she found in the terrace.
El Coto Site in Istán
Welcome to El Coto site in Istán. You are in a magical place where you will be able to feel the essence of Mediterranean forests. Here the vegetation forms a true botanical garden. You will be wrapped by the aromas of plants, smell the wet earth, hear the sound of water and listen to the singing of birds. You will feel like you have traveled into a primordial forest without having to move more than a few meters from the village.
El Coto consists of an ancient network of Moorish ditches that were used to transport water from the source of Molinos river and irrigate the orchards that are below the site. An old water tank also stored the supply of the village. The orchards and terraces get together with the forest and are perfectly integrated in the landscape, showing that a sustainable use of natural resources is possible.
Currently El Coto has been transformed into a recreational area equipped with trails for your enjoyment. Caution is required in the use of facilities. Please leave them as you would like to see them. Fire is a danger to you and the environment. Do not light a fire or throw cigarettes or any other object that may cause combustion. Do not collect plants or disturb wildlife. Make a responsible use of water and avoid unnecessary noise. Enjoy nature in Istán.
The Irrigation Channels
Of Arabic origin, the acequias or irrigation channels were used to transport the waters both for irrigation and domestic use. They crisscross the whole village with branches leading off to irrigate the different orchards and plots of land which are to be found in the surrounding area.
These constructions are a clear indication of the skill of the Arabs in making use of the force of gravity and the geographical characteristics of the area to channel water for human consumption and irrigation. In order to do so they created terraced cultivation fields in seemingly impossible situations, with the necessary irrigation waters being brought to them by an ingenious positioning of the channels. This, a human invention which transported water supplies to fields with no previous irrigation facilities, led them to be more productive and allow the cultivation of plants, bushes, and trees which would require much more water than that normally provided by the rains. Sometimes the system would be augmented by tanks or cisterns which would temporarily store the water so that it could be used as and when required. The organization involved the establishing of a system by which the right to use the water in each of the plots of land was exercised on a rotation basis.
The irrigation channels in Istán draw their water from springs originating in the sierra, which mainly flow into the River Molinos, and sometimes into the River Verde. The fact that it has t be distributed through irrigation channels, makes water an even more valuable collective asset.
It could perhaps be said that the traditional irrigation channels in Istán are a kind of living museum. They are part of our history, our cultural, ethnological, and natural heritage which also offer walkers the opportunity to fully enjoy the natural surroundings.
This ditch starts right in the birth of Molinos River, more exactly in a small cavity that is covered by a waters capture hut. It runs along the left river bank and has an approximate total length of 5 km. It crosses El Coto Park to later run close to the current municipal swimming pool wall and carries across the Matasnillo stream, Los Jarales and Galapagar Stream to end up at Llano de los Moritos.
A great variety of riverside plants arise around the ditch, making a vegetal corridor where multitude of birds shelter, such as Blackbirds (Turdus merula) and Common nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos) that will put the soundtrack to your walk.
Yoy will find a great variety of vegetal species as you walk along. The abundance of water and the shade provided by centenary cork oaks make a special microclimate that allows Mosses (Bryophyta s.s.), Ferns (Pteridium aquilinum) and Bear´s Breech (Acanthus mollis) growing as they would in other more shady and humid areas in the world.
You will also be able to see a variety of aromatic and medicinal plants; Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) with antiseptic and healing properties, and different Mint plants (Satureja calaminta) and (Satureja graeca) used to relieve stomachic colic.
You will also find other plants of ethnographical interested along the path. For example the Laurustinus (Viburnum tinus) a very hard wood bush, used in the past to manufacture handles for plows, hoes and other tillage tools. You will also see the only native Palm tree in Europe, the Mediterranean Fam Palm (Chamaerops humilis), very abundant in this area whose leaves were used to make baskets, hats and brooms in the past.
The river Molinos, water source for the town, begins life in the foothills of the Sierra Blanca mountains. Istán, with its natural beauty and its abundance of water is one of the principal sources of water for the Costa del Sol.
Molinos River and the Gallego Terrace
Formerly know as “vegetable gardens stream”, the river is now known as “Molinos” (Mills) after the many flour mills built on its left bank. The building at the end is the old “San Miguel´s factory, better known as “light mill” since it was adapted for electricity generation in the early XX century, which it did until 1960.
Standing out we can see the Gallego Terrace and the travertine favoured by a karstic landscape with many caves.
Camino del Pinillo (Path)
Historical Review: This path initially started at Marbella´s old road and then was going down the Loma del Pinillo. Formerly, when Istán used to have vineyards, there was a winery in El Pinillo equal to the one that still exists nowadays in Loma de Monchalbán. Upon arrival at the river, the Camino del Pinillo used to joing with the road to San Pedro de Alcántara, which then was passing by the factory “De Arriba” and through the Colona del Angel before getting in San Pedro.
Flora and Fauna: Istán municipality has incredible scenic beauty and it also has one of the oldest and most emblematic trees of Andalusia and Spain: the Holly Chestnut, “Castaño Santo de Istán”.
We ca see a great geological diversity in Istán municipality soils, with areas of limestone, gneiss or peridotite; and biological as well, in therms of vegetation: thickets, forests of pines and oaks, Mediterranean scrub, etc. We have to highlight that in the flowering season (March, April) the rockroses constitute a spectacle and a delight to the senses; and in terms of wildlife, the observation of specie; such as foxes, wild boar and it is also possible to see roedeerin the mountains fo Bornoque.
The ibex is also seen in the area as the Redstar Lizards (Acanthodactylus eryhtrurus) and Cenderella Lizards (Spanish Psammodromus), some raptors too and, if we´re lucky: Otters in Rio Verde. Finally, it is also possible to find the butterfly known as “Pasha” or “four tails” (Charaxes Jasius), which feeds aminly on arbutus plants.
Lenght: 1 kilometer
One-way duration: 30 minutes
Degree of difficulty: Medium