Moors v. Christians (Again)

Lisa Jennings Zacatecas is ready to go to war. Every year on the last Friday in August, this colonial city in central Mexico becomes the site of a three-day battle reenactment called the Moors of Bracho, or “Las Morismas de Bracho.” Part festival, the event re-creates the battles between the Moors a

By: Lisa Jennings

Zacatecas is ready to go to war.

Every year on the last Friday in August, this colonial city in central Mexico becomes the site of a three-day battle reenactment called the Moors of Bracho, or “Las Morismas de Bracho.”

Part festival, the event re-creates the battles between the Moors and the Christians that took place in Spain centuries ago, as well as commemorating the famous battle of Lepanto against the Turkish empire in Greece in 1571. The tradition was brought to Mexico during colonial times after the Spanish conquest.

Townspeople consider it an honor to play a role in the battle, and children learn at an early age how to play either a Christian or a Moor, with costumes passed down from generation to generation.

This year the war starts Aug. 27 on Bracho Hill northeast of the city. Soldiers on horseback wear elaborate costumes and carry heavy weaponry, often accompanied by musicians on both sides. The staged fighting lasts for three days, with alternating victories.

On Aug. 29, for the last mock battle, the Christian army forms into a massive human cross to secure victory over the Turks.

When the battle is over, Zacatecas City turns into a festival of sorts, with a parade to the San Juan Bautista church where the faux enemies come together for music and dance fireworks and other celebrations.

The first Mexican morisma recorded dates back to 1539 in Tlaxcala. Later, in the early 17th century, Franciscan missionaries brought the battle reenactment to Zacatecas. Other cities host festivals in commemoration of the tradition, but the most elaborate reenactment is in Zacatecas.

The Quinta Real Zacatecas, now a member of Preferred Resorts & Hotels, is offering a family vacation package starting at about $180 per night for a master suite, including breakfast for two, and the option of an upgrade to a room with a Jacuzzi. With only 49 suites, this hotel is unusual in that it encircles the San Pedro bullring, which was built in the 17th century. Commissionable at 10 percent, the package is available through Aug. 31.

www.preferredhotels.com

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