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History of Istán

Ayuntamiento de Istán
Ayuntamiento de Istán  •  • 952 869 603

Ayuntamiento de Istán

History of Istán

Río VerdeThe special features of its enclave, a small promontory above the valleys of the Verde and Molinos rivers, as well as its proximity to Marbella, led the Muslims to choose this village to settle in.

Once the Land of Marbella had been conquered and after the general conversion of 1500, the pressures upon the Mudejar Muslims became the decisive factor influencing the beginning of a surreptitious march towards the North of Africa, which was aborted by the troops of Marbella close to the mouth of the Verde River.

During the rebellion of the moors in 1568, Istán is where those who rebelled convened in their greatest number and bloody battles were fought in its mountains, until the defeat of Fuerte de Arboto (Parade Ground) in which they were subdued by the Duke of Arcos and, subsequently, exiled to the interior of the Peninsula.

Istán, like other villages in the rearguard, also had within its mountains a fortified protective network, which historians testify to and which the passage of time has made difficult to identify in its existing toponymy.

Despite the ruggedness of the terrain, the mountains were cultivated and the villages linked by means of intricate paths.  These paths were secured by watchtowers such as the one between Istán and Tolox in the Águila hills; another small fort dominated the south of the village from the Lastonar hills, at the foothills of the Sierra Blanca.  But of greatest historical ancestry was the Arboto Castle, a league away from Istán and to the north of the Verde River; at the start of the Bermeja mountain range and dominating the Ronda path, from an elevation of 730m.

Istán was always a place of great wealth, specifically in the XVI century its mountain ranges, although harsh, were awash with vineyards, the raisins and wines from which were much in demand and boats from Flanders, Brittany and England were sent specifically to Marbella to load up with this cargo.  Its main woodlands are made up of oaks, walnuts and white mulberries, these last leading to the intensity of the silk industry.

It was the first nucleus of the region to become incorporated into the uprising with developments taking place as follows:

In 1568, a wealthy moor from Istán called Francisco Pacheco Manjuz, who had lived for six months with the rebels of Granada and who was awarded the leadership of these mountain ranges, took as his centre of operations the Arboto mountains and castle, strongholds due to their ruggedness and whose paths were re-trodden in order to take cattle and baggage there.

The mutiny began on New Year’s Day in 1569; in the early hours of the morning of 31st of December 1568 the parish priest Pedro de Escalante, incumbent of Istán, who as he did not have a house of his own lived in a fortified tower at the entrance of the village, heard various men knocking on the door asking him to come out and hear the confession of a dying woman. He was reluctant to open the door when he realised the moors had risen up, leaving the next day to spread news of the up-rising.  In the meantime a niece of the incumbent, Juana de Escalante, remained in the Istán Tower with her maid.  It was then that the rebels attempted to take the building, they stole corn, oil and other items that were in the first vault and tried to capture the cleric’s niece, even though she managed to get up to the first floor and defended herself against her assailants until the troops from Marbella arrived.

The battle took place on the 20th of September of 1570 and lasted more than three hours, with the courage of the Duke of Arcos , Luis Ponce de León (sent by Phillip II) proving decisive as with his troops he assailed the Arboto fort when the rebels were away.  These then dispersed throughout the villages and mountains, leaving five hundred women and children in the power of the Christians.

It is from then onwards that the re-population process begins with old Christians from different parts of Spain, amongst whom the properties of the moors were distributed.  One of those groups came from the lands of Murcia and spoke “panocho”, a peculiarity which ensured that since then all natives of Istán are called “panochos”.

With the settlement of these peoples a different way of life begins , one which constitutes the origins of the current social system.