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Just over twenty minutes from Marbella and nestled on the slopes of “La Sierra Blanca”, lies this small town with a population of 1,350 inhabitants, declared a “Biosphere Reserve” by UNESCO. Istan is synonymous with spring: springs that flow abundantly through the numerous fountains that the town has. The town is surrounded by strikingly beautiful natural spots. Among its places are the source of the Molinos River and the natural galleries of “El Peñón”, “Azufaito” and “Las Herrizas”. From these galleries, you can enjoy marvellous views of the hillsides surrounding Istán. The “Paseo del Coto” allows you to admire the Mediterranean forest of holm-oak and kermes oak trees, sprinkled by renovated Moorish irrigation ditches.


Istán is located approximately 16km west of Marbella at the foot of the Sierra de las Nieves natural park and at the northern end of the Concepción reservoir, which provides the main water supply for most of the west coast. Access to the village is from the Golden Mile or the A-7 km 177 exit.

The small mountain village, set in stunning scenery, is famous for its pure spring water and has numerous fountains. The architecture mainly consists of cubic, flat-roofed houses reminiscent of Moroccan architecture. The village has several small shops, two banks, a small health centre and a primary school as well as restaurants and rural hotels. The village is popular with mountain bikers and walkers as there are several hiking routes in the vicinity.

Few foreigners live in the village itself which remains essentially Spanish, although the Cerros del Lago and Sierra Blanca Country Club developments on the way to Istán are very popular with foreign buyers.


Istán is a town with a rich history dating back to the 14th century. After the capture of Arboto Castle by Christians, its defenders fled to Istán. Its location and proximity to Marbella made it attractive to Muslims. After Marbella’s conquest and conversion in 1500, Mudejars faced pressure. They started a march towards North Africa but were stopped near Rio Verde. In 1568, Istán led Moriscos’ rebellion. Battles were fought until Arboto Fort was defeated. Duke de Arcos subdued them and they were exiled to the Iberian Peninsula.

The history of Istán continued to evolve after the exile of the Moriscos. The town underwent many changes and developments over the centuries. Its strategic location and natural resources made it an important center for trade and commerce. Today, Istán is a vibrant town with a rich cultural heritage and a thriving tourism industry.


The oldest and most important monument is its Parish Church from the Sixteenth Century. Other outstanding buildings are its cave which houses “La Casa de la Juventud” (The Youth House) its public wash house and its Arabic tower which situated at its highest point formed part of its old fort.

Some other popular sights in Istán include the Camino Rural de Istán a Tolox, a mountain trail that offers stunning views of the Sierra de las Nieves. The town’s old quarter is also worth exploring, with its narrow streets and historic buildings. There are also several viewpoints around the town, such as the Mirador de la Herriza II, which offer breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys.


Istán celebrates its local holidays and festivities with a variety of events throughout the year. The town’s local gastronomy is varied and highly recommended dishes include goat basted in garlic tomato soup with prickly pears and corn soup.

  • September 22nd: A colourful procession in honour of San Miguel.
  • September 26th-29th: Local holidays and festivities.
  • February: Gastronomic Days where locals and visitors can taste the town’s most typical dishes in the town square.
  • September 29th: Feria de San Miguel lasts for three days and includes numerous events such as a bicycle ribbon race.
  • Sunday before September 29th: Romería de San Miguel or ‘tomillería’ takes place where locals known as ‘tomilleros’ make their way to the saint’s hermitage.
  • November: Locals prepare for the ‘tostoná’, with roasted chestnuts and aguardiente licour.
  • November 30th: ‘Zambombeos’ announce the arrival of Christmas with groups of locals walking through the streets singing popular carols accompanied by zambombas and tambourines.

Useful Information

  • Local Holidays: April 25th in honour of San Marcos and September 29th in honour of San Miguel.
  • Distance from Malaga Airport: 70km.
  • Town hall: +34 952-869-603 (Location:


Little property is available in the village itself but urbanisations situated on the way to Istán are popular with foreign resident. There are a variety of properties available for sale in and around Istán, including luxury villas with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding mountains.

Other options include apartments and townhouses in developments such as Cerros del Lago and Sierra Blanca Country Club, which are popular with foreign buyers. These properties offer a range of amenities. Additionally, they are situated in stunning natural surroundings. Furthermore, they have easy access to the town of Istán and nearby Marbella.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for car hire options during your visit to Malaga you can check out Malaga car hire.