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View of the town of Estepa in the province of Seville. SUR
Estepa: large area of land with no forest
THE STORY BEHIND A PLACE NAME

Estepa: large area of land with no forest

The Carthaginians named it Astapa; the subsequent Roman and Muslim names are believed to have derived from there

Tony Bryant

Estepa

Friday, 8 December 2023, 11:28

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The history of Estepa, situated in the extreme south-east of the province of Seville, can be traced back to the ancient Carthaginian civilisation. The discovery of well-preserved flint tools and axes have led archaeologists to believe that there were at least two settlements in this area, one six kilometres from Estepa and the other located under the current town.

The Carthage settlement is mentioned as Astapa (meaning a large area of non-forested land) in classical sources, although this town was destroyed by the Romans during the Punic Wars.

However, according to historian and travel writer Michael Jacobs, when the Romans entered Estepa, they discovered that the entire population had burned their properties before taking their own lives, in preference to surrendering to the enemy.

Under Roman rule, the town became known as Ostippo, and was linked to the Conventus de Astigi (today Écija). The town was mentioned in the Antonine Itinerary, official documents mapping the roads of the Roman Empire, although, with the exception of the remains of a few agricultural settlements to the north of the town, nothing remains of Ostippo.

The town was inhabited by the Visigoths, who kept the Roman place name, but it was conquered during the Muslim invasion in the eighth century. During the Arab period it was called Istabba, which, according to some academics, comes from Astapa.

Later the town was conquered by Ferdinand III in 1267, becoming Latinised as Estepa.

It achieved its greatest monumental heritage during the 16th and 17th centuries under the Marquess of Estepa, whose palace was constructed on the site of a former Islamic castle.

Due to its elevated location, Estepa is known as the Balcony of Andalucía, because it offers distant views of Seville, Cordoba and Malaga on clear days.

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