Cracow Nativity Scenes - Szopki krakowskie

Since 1937* every first Thursday of December** hundreds of people gather together at Cracow’s Main Square around the Mickiewicz’s Monument to exhibit their small (and not so small at all) masterpieces. The Cracow Nativity Scenes (Polish: Szopki krakowskie) are a tradition dating back to XIX Century.

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Nowadays artists, craftsmen their own Nativity Scenes and even children create using wood, cardboard, jewels and colorful foil . The unusual addition to this well know Christian tradition is that the Cracow Nativity Scenes contain buildings and figures specific for Cracow and Polish culture like St. Mary’s Basilica, Sukkienice tradehall, the Wawel Castel and Dragon of the Wawel Hill, winged hussars or even Tadeusz Kościuszko.

Since 1946 the Historical Museum of Cracow organizes a competition to choose the best Szopka (pronounce: shopka) - this year judges had to choose among 153 Nativity Scenes. The 2011 competition took place 2 days ago. Now everybody can watch the winning works in Krzysztofory Palace - six of them will be later exhibited in the European Parliament.

Click the image below to see gallery of this years competition at

*Since 1937 with a break caused by the Second World War

** date of first Thursday of December was set in 1960’s

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