Museum of Nativity Scenes in Karlštejn – The Spirit of the Season Year Round

Gingerbread nativity scene
Gingerbread nativity scene

Karlštejn, More than the Castle

With the nativity scene being a key part of Christmas celebrations for many people around the world, it should come as no surprise that someone would build a museum around the concept. If you’re in the Czech Republic, the village of Karlštejn is host to one such museum.

Karlštejn, a short distance west of Prague, is most famous for its castle. While the castle is beautiful, you must pass through the village of the same name before you reach the castle. The village is quite charming and friendly, with many shops to visit. There’s really no reason not to give some of your time to the village while on your way to or from a visit to the castle. Equally, there’s really no reason not to include this museum in that visit.

The Collection

Sculpted nativity under glass with a music box in the base.
Sculpted nativity under glass with a music box in the base.

The museum is in a small building, but the variety of nativity scenes presented is impressive both in style and scope.

The displays cover everything from the modest to the grand; simple two dimensional wall hangings to a complex mechanized scene that takes up half a room. The materials used are equally varied from simple straw to exotic woods and then some.

The moods of the scenes are also highly variable, from the lighthearted whimsy of a gingerbread scene to the much more serious nature of an ornate wood carving.

It’s quite absorbing to examine how artists using very disparate materials used their skills and chosen media to create the same basic subject. Also fascinating is the difference in mood and atmosphere the various artists gave their respective pieces.

Detail of a large mechanized nativity scene
Detail of a large mechanized nativity scene

Visiting the Museum

Karlštejn is very easy to access from Prague, this is largely because the castle there is one of the most popular and visited in the country.

The museum itself is variable in its opening hours depending on the time of year. The museum’s own website is completely in Czech, but this link will give you the critical details such as opening hours and admission fees in other languages:

http://www.czecot.com/tourist-attraction/7432_museum-of-nativity-scenes-karlstejn

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