Nativity Scenes in Prague’s ChurchesOriginally, nativity scenes showed the scene of Jesus’ birth and people could only see them in churches. Over the time, they turned into a tradition that also spread into people’s homes. So, where in Prague can you see nativity scenes? Try the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul at Vyšehrad, where you can see a beautiful nativity scene from the nineteenth century from 2 December. The museum at the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Malá Strana (The Infant Jesus of Prague) houses a permanent exhibition of nativity scenes from all over the world – including Central and South America, Canada and the Philippines. The other traditional places where you can find a nativity scene at Christmas include the Church of St. Matthew in Dejvice, which has an interesting nativity scene made of gingerbread, in St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle, at the Týn Church on Old Town Square, and in the Loreta.
Only once in 100 years
A jubilee exhibition of nativity scenes is being held in the Klementinum Gallery in Prague to mark the 800th anniversary of the creation of the first nativity scene by Francis of Assisi. Why the Klementinum? Well, that's where the first nativity scene in Czechia was built in 1562! This unique exhibition gives you the chance to see works of the best contemporary nativity scene makers from all over the Czech Republic. And, if that weren’t enough, a wholly unique mechanical (electrically-powered) Jubilee nativity scene is being created for this very exhibition. The well-known tableau of Baby Jesus in the manger might be somewhat familiar... The setting of the nativity scene is a replica of Prague’s Kampa district. Apart from 24 and 25 December 2023, the exhibition is open every day from 25 November 2023 to 7 January 2024.
Let’s Go to a Nativity Scene Museum!There are several nativity scene museums in the Czech Republic, and they are open all year round. The Karlštejn Nativity Scene Museum in Central Bohemia has a collection of old Czech nativity scenes carved from wood, but there are also nativity scenes made of other materials, such as sugar or bread. However, the most popular are mechanical nativity scenes and the Karlštejn Royal Nativity Scene. It is the largest puppet nativity scene with figurines of ten most important Czech sovereigns.
The Museum of Nativity Scenes in Třebechovice pod Orebem in East Bohemia has more than 400 nativity scenes made of various materials and coming from all regions of the Czech Republic, some very old and some quite modern. The Třebechovice Probošt’s Nativity Scene is the only one in the Czech Republic that has been declared a national cultural monument. It is about a hundred years old and has thousands of carved parts and about 350 figurines. Fifty-one of them even move individually and others are installed on a moving band. This seven-metre-long nativity scene will definitely capture both children and parents interested in technology!
You can also find a permanent exposition of nativity scenes in Třešť in Vysočina, which is one of the most important areas of nativity scene makers in the country. The largest traditional mechanical nativity scene, also recorded in the Guinness Book of Records, can be seen in Jindřichův Hradec all year round.
Folk Nativity Scenes in an Open-Air MuseumAt the end of November, the cottages in the open-air museum in Přerov nad Labem in Central Bohemia come to life with scenes from the life of old generations. Old Advent and Christmas customs are demonstrated in the interiors of the protected buildings. Besides old folk and church nativity scenes, the exhibition on Folk Christmas in Polabí (17.11.-30.12) also includes a continuously expanded collection of modern nativity scenes made of various materials.
The town of Hlinsko in East Bohemia does not stay behind. You can visit an exhibition called Christmas Nativity Scene in the Betlém Hlinsko preservation (13.12.-7.1.) You can look forward to decorated timber houses and nativity scenes made by folk artists. The unique mechanical Hlinsko nativity scene will also be on display. As well as the interesting Easter nativity scene, or scenes made of straw, paper, or even dough.
Where to See Outdoor Nativity ScenesThe picturesque village of Kryštofovo Údolí near Liberec puts a unique outdoor nativity scene on display at the end of November; it was created by academic artist Josef Jíra and it is beautifully lit in the evening.
Near Hospital Kuks in East Bohemia, you will find an educational trail called Let’s Go to Bethlehem Together. It will take you from the square in Kuks to Braun’s nativity scene hidden in a forest. This nativity scene originally included 26 sculptural reliefs carved into the rocks and boulders. Only ten have been preserved.
Other tips for a trip include the beautiful Krkonoše fairy-tale nativity scene in the Vrchlabí chateau park in North Bohemia, or the unique wood-metal nativity scene at Kovozoo (25.11.-7.1.) near Uherské Hradiště in East Moravia, where animals are made of scrap iron and people figurines from wood. You can see a wide variety of nativity scenes through the windows of more than thirty houses and shops, as well as in churches, on a stroll around the picturesque little town of Štramberk, which, coincidentally, is known as the Moravian nativity scene for its beauty. There is definitely a lot to choose from.