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
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
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.