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Krakow Szopka Nativity Scenes

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yearly contest for the Nativity scene builders on the central square of Krakow

‘Szopki’, Krakow’s Traditional Christmas Cribs 

Krakow’s famous ‘szopka’ – pronounced ‘shopka’ – Christmas creches are portable theaters for traditional puppet Nativity plays. The ornate structures can be two meters high and three meters wide. Those colorful, ingenious, richly decorated and brightly illuminated extravaganzas take fantastic shapes inspired by Krakow’s architectural marvels, the bizarre spires of the church of Virgin Mary’s in the first place. 

In 2018 UNESCO has inscribed the Krakow tradition of building szopka Nativity scenes on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

History of making the szopka creches in Krakow 

In the past the Christmas cribs were mostly works of Krakow masons in their idle weeks of the Polish rainy late autumn. Nowadays it is a pastime of many Krakow dwellers of all walks of life. And the city boasts several dynasties of Christmas crib makers where two or three generations construct brand-new creches every year.

The City of Krakow Historical Museum at 35 Grand Square has collected the best examples of traditional Christmas cribs for decades. And every year the museum’s contest gathers szopka builders with their latest works round the monument to Adam Mickiewicz at the Grand Square where a plethora of newly built szopka cribs of various size can be seen before noon on the first Thursday of December. Then the successful entries are displayed in the Historical Museum throughout the holiday season in Krakow

  • Note: Original Krakow szopka nativity scenes are on sale in the museum shop of the History Museum (Muzeum Historyczne) at 35 Rynek Glowny central square and Szczepanska street, all year round.  

Another szopkas – traditional nativity scenes in the churches of Krakow. 

Every Krakow church takes pride in its own Christmas 'szopka' – the Nativity scene that is usually lavish and elaborate, often in motion, and sometimes centuries old. Those most popular can be found in the historical city center – in the late-17th-century church of Annunciation at the Loretanska street, in the 17th-century church of Annunciation at the Karmelicka street, in the early-17th-century church of St. Peter and St. Paul’s and in the adjacent 13th-century church of St. Andrew’s (both at Grodzka street). It's one of the city's Christmas traditions to visit as many churches as possible and admire their different szopkas.


Other Krakow Curios:
Prettiest Leonardo da Vinci
World's greatest medieval sculpture
Window of awe
Subterranean wonder world
Renaissance pearl
Giant bell
Miraculous images
8-foot golden crown
Signal trump
Krakow mummies
Ice-age rhino


Christmas in Krakow
Why the ancient capital of Poland deserves a title of the world capital of Christmas.

Krakow Christmas Market

Krakow Festivals
Hardly a month passes in Krakow without some time-honored occasion for common festivities or colorful celebration.

Krakow Folk Traditions
Krakow region has always been rich in colorful folk traditions, handed down from generation to generation.

Krakow Christmas crib

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