Thursday, December 7, 2017 - Wednesday, January 31, 2018
There’s no Christmas without a Nativity Scene, and the most beautiful ones come from Kraków!
No self-respecting Cracovian can imagine December without colourful, illuminated models of their city, populated with the Holy Family, angels and shepherds alongside local legends, traditions and history as well as allusions to contemporary figures and events. The scenes are set in dazzling metallic foil shaped to recall some of Kraków’s most distinctive buildings. The most frequently recurring motifs are Wawel Castle, Sukiennice, the Barbican and city walls with St Florian’s Gate, with the towers of the Basilica of St Mary, Town Hall and Wawel Cathedral soaring over the miniature landscapes. The tradition of making nativity scene, initiated by bricklayers who faced unemployment during winter months, dates back to the 19th century. They soon gave rise to family clans of constructors, handing the beautiful tradition down the generations. The custom is overseen by the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków, organiser of the annual Nativity Scene Contest, held on the first Thursday of December. From the following Sunday, Cracovians and tourists flock to the post-contest exhibition, this year held at the Celestat branch of the Historical Museum for the first time. In 2014, the tradition was added to the national list of non-material cultural heritage.
For the last three years, nativity scenes have also entered the city space: the joint initiative of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków and the Krakow Festival Office All Around Nativity Scenes showcases the most beautiful works of recent years. This year, windows of shops, restaurants, banks and InfoKraków tourist information points present 27 items from the museum’s archives. For the second time, the campaign has commissioned large-scale nativity scenes which will be placed in illuminated display cases across the city. This winter, the five pieces from last year are joined by five brand new scenes.
The intricate designs created by Cracovian artisans bring the magic of Christmas to grim winter days – and in January, join us for a walk All Around Nativity Scenes on Epiphany (6 January 2018, 2pm, start: ul. Powiśle 11)! Let’s enjoy the skill and imagination of Kraków’s nativity scene makers! (Dorota Dziunikowska, “Karnet” monthly)