Madrid´s Best Public Nativity Scenes

No Spanish Christmas is complete without a nativity scene ( belens) in the home – and the more elaborate the better.

It’s a tradition that goes back centuries and Madrid is full of different types of nativity scenes that can be visited free of charge by visitors and locals alike.

We have compiled a list of must see belens across the capital this Christmas. All of which are open and available for viewing.

The Madrid City Council’s Nativity Scene by José Luis Mayo Lebrija is displayed at the Cibeles Palace. Located in CentroCentro – entry is free though booking required. The belen is a collaborative effort between artist José Luis Mayo and Madrid’s association of “Belenistas”.

Situated in the Plaza Mayor has a viewing gallery Neapolitan nativity scene in the Plaza Mayor –  a must for the Christmas market also created by the association of “Belenistas”.

The Royal Palace is displaying a Neapolitan Nativity Scene that has its origins over two centuries being made by Charles III for his son Charles IV. It is made up of more than 200 Neapolitan, Genoese and Spanish figures dating from the 18th to the 21st century.

Madrid´s History Museum on Calle Fuencarral  displays an exquisite 18th century Neapolitan Nativity Scene which is one of the most valuable works housed in the museum, made up of 50 Baroque pieces.

Don’t miss the nativity scene at the San Isidro Museum (12 Dec to 21 Jan) with a traditional nativity scene featuring figures that highlight the importance of the nativity tradition in the 19th century.

The Palacio de Correos in the Puerta del Sol displays the traditional Madrid nativity scene, complete with the capital´s patron saint, San Isidro.

La Montaña de los Gatos del Retiro: An exhibition of nativity scenes from all over the world has been installed in Retiro’s recently refurbished artificial mountain. The scenes all come from the Basanta-Martín collection and include nativities from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the US.

In addition there are nativity scenes in the monasteries of the Royal Foundation (La Encarnación) , Las Descalzas Reales and the Royal Convent of Santa Isabel.


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