Miniature representations of Nativity (known in Spanish as ‘Belén’ or in the plural form ‘Belenes’) is one of the older traditions of Christmas celebration in Spain.
Going to see the biggest ones, usually of several square metres, open for public visit in official buildings (like town halls) or commercial premises, is one the most attractive leisure activities for Christmas time.
Malaga is the perfect destination to enjoy a broad selection of wonderful Belenes. But there are so many of them to choose from, that here in Espacar, we have thought about making your life a bit easier and we bring you this guide of the best Belenes of Malaga province.
The origin of Belenes
Belenes, very popular also in Italy, have their origin in the Middle Age, when Saint Francis of Assisi decided to make a reproduction of Christ Nativity and held a mass on the 25th of December around this representation.
The idea became quite popular and around mid XVth Century appeared the first companies dedicated to elaborate the figurines used in the representation. Today you can find Belenes of all kind, the most typical are made from porcelain, but you can find them also made of chocolate, with living actors and even on Playmobil toys. If you are around Malaga in these dates, here are the most recommended Belenes of the province.
Belenes in Malaga city centre
For Malaga town natives, one of the unavoidable traditions of every Christmas is to spend and afternoon/evening visiting the Belenes of the city centre, with a due stop to have some hot chocolate with churros in any of the popular cafeterias (for example Casa Aranda).
You can find a Nativity representation just in every corner of the city centre but we recommend you not to miss these ones:
- Town hall Belén. It’s one of the oldest in town and it is decorated with running water and sound and light effects. It’s also one of the most visited, so queues are usual, especially in weekends with waiting times of an hour or more. Place: Malaga Town Hall. Time of visit: From 6th December up to 6th January from 10 am to 2 pm and from 5 pm to 9 pm.
- The Cathedral’s Belén. It’s other of the historic representations. It has more than 45 square metres and this year marine motives are highlighted. Place: Malaga Cathedral. Time of visit: From 2nd December, from 10 am to 2 pm and from 5 pm to 8,30 pm.
- Cofradía de EstudiantesAsociación Cultural Zegrí. This Belén is one of the biggest of the city and also one of the most visited. Unfortunately, it doesn’t open on Saturday afternoons nor Sundays, so if you want to see it on a weekend you have to go on Friday afternoons or Saturday mornings. Place: C/Alcazabilla, 3. Time of visit: From 5th December up to 5th January from 10,30 am to 1,30 pm and from 5,30 pm to 8 pm.
- Carmen Thyssen Museum. The Archicofradía de los Dolores de San Juan is in charge of the Neapolitan Belén with a representation of Nativity based in one of the pictures of the Museum permanent collection. Place: Plaza de Carmen Thyssen s/n. Time of visit: From 24th November up to 13th January, Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 7,30 pm.
If you are interested in Belenes of other districts you can check the guide the Town Hall has made with all Nativities over the map of the city.
Living Belenes in Malaga province
Nearly in every town and small village of the province you can find Belenes to visit, but some of them are especially famous because they provide living representations. Most of them take place in the first weeks of December but there are some later in the month: the living Belén of El Valdés, take place on 21st December at 6 pm in the plaza de la Axarquia (El Valdés), and also the living Belén of Almayate, with a single representation at 6 pm on 29th and 30th of December.
If you visit some of these villages do not forget to buy some of their typical Christmas sweets.
Submarine Belén in Sea Life
This is one of the Christmas activities becoming more popular in recent years. It’s really one of the more original Belenes, as it is under water. Every year the famous Sea Life aquarium puts a Belén in one of its huge tanks. This year it is located with the stingrays where you can also enjoy the traditional figurines with sharks swimming around.
You can visit from Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 5,30 pm. Please note the 24th and the 31st closes at 5 pm. The 1st January opens from 12 pm to 5,30 pm. The 25th is closed.
Museum of Belenes in Mollina
In Mollina you can find the biggest Museum of Belenes of the world. From 2017 you can pay a visit all year round. It has more than 60 Belenes in 7 exposition halls. They will take you around 1 hour and a half to visit.
This year you can enjoy a gigantic Belén made of Playmobil toys, the perfect excuse to take there the little queens and kings of the house. It will be shown from 1st November up to 7th January.
Now you only need to choose what Belenes to visit, choose a date and be ready to enjoy all your Christmas plans. From Espacar, we just want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.