There are always Belenes, or nativities scenes in Spanish houses whether they are believer or not, it’s the most emblematic symbol of Christmas around! The one that comes to mind includes is the classic one: Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, an ox and a mule.
There are some who add in the Three Kings (with the camels, of course), the angel above the door, shepherds, etc. There are even some people who take it to the next level, and their nativity looks like a film set with rivers, walls, towers, houses, bridges and much more! There is a piece that is typical in Catalonia, the Caganer, which refers to a tiny figure crouched close to the ground going number 2, yes you read correctly, which has also become popular in other parts of the country. Today, you can find the famous Caganer representing politicians, famous people, athletes, and international celebrities. You’re not really famous unless your face can be found on a Caganer!
If you’re thinking about making your own Belén, there are tons of art supply stores near the Plaza Mayor in Madrid. They sell whatever supplies you could think of to make the best Belén possible: classic, modern, plastic, clay, etc. If you want a unique and creative nativity, we’ll give you a few suggestions: for example, you could make a belén out of hard-boiled eggs, and for baby Jesus a tiny quail egg. You can make your belén out of Legos, Barbie dolls, action figures, or even painted toilet paper rolls!
If you need a bit of inspiration, check out Noche de Luz now until the 6th of January! Here are a few other belenes, or nativities, that you can check out free of charge this Christmas season in Madrid!
El Belén del Ayuntamiento
Simple and modest. It’s made up of 40 handmade pieces. You can see it at the Ayuntamiento de Madrid (Palacio de Cibeles) from 10 to 21h y until the 6 of January. FREE
Belén de Puerta del Sol
This belén is from the Community of Madrid, not just the city, and you can find it in the Puerta del Sol. Do you know where the building with the clock is? It’s inside of there! It’s over 150 meters square, and has over 500 pieces. Until the 6th of January from 10 till 21h. FREE
Iglesia de San Ginés
This one has some of the largest pieces and belén figures we’ve ever seen and they’re from XIX, and even though the stage is small because it’s only the moment when the Three Kings adorn the baby Jesus, it truly is spectacular.Check it out until the 10th of January and it’s open everyday from 9 until 13h and 18 until 21h.
Convento de las Carboneras
It’s not as big or as spectacular as some of the others, but its baroque figures are worth it to see up close! From 9 till 13.30 h and from 16.30 until 19.30 h. Sundays and holidays: From 10 until 13.30 and from 16.30 until 19.30 h.
Catedral de la Almudena
Salón de Alabarderos del Palacio Real
This one is known as the Prince’s Nativity and it was started by the son of the King Carlos III in XVIII. It’s one of the most valuable in Madrid and the pieces are classic. You can see it everyday from 10 until 21h. until the 6th of January and from 10 until 18h. on the 24th and 31st of December.
If you want to take a guided tour so that you don’t miss any of the details, we recommend the tour organized by the Ayuntamiento of Madrid. It costs 10,90€ and it lasts 2 hours. It always starts at noon. It takes place on Saturday the 19th, Thursday the 24th, Saturday the 26th, Monday the 28th and Wednesday the 30th. (The tours are in Spanish)
There is also a life-size belén in San Lorenzo de El Escorial! The whole town becomes part of the nativity! Check these out, and tell us, which is your favorite!