Travels Through Islam: Moros y Cristianos

Moros y Cristianos festival, Mojacar, Spain
Lucia Herrero for TIME
José Antonio González (front row, second from left) re-enacts every year. He jokes that he chose to join the Moors over the Christians because they had better costumes.

This is the fifth installment in a five-part series from TIME International’s annual Summer Journey issue, Travels Through Islam: Discovering a world of change and challenge in the footsteps of the 14th century explorer Ibn Battuta.

There may be no more curious remnant of the Muslim kingdom that Ibn Battuta knew as al-Andalus than the festival of Moros y Cristianos—Moors and Christians. Commemorated in towns throughout Spain, it enlists entire populations into elaborately costumed “battalions” to re-enact the medieval surrender of Spain’s last Muslim rulers to the conquering Catholic kings.

TIME sent photographer Lucia Herrero to photograph the festival in Mojácar, in Andalusia — three days of parades, competitions, music, and performance — where she found that the country’s Muslim past is woven into its present in ways both obvious and subtle.

Lucia Herrero is a freelance photographer based in Barcelona. Her long-term project TRIBES will be screened at the Belfast Photo Festival, and the work will be collected in her first book, coming out in September.

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