Preserving the magic of Christmas


With the magic of Christmas right around the corner, children and adults alike are getting into the spirit of the season, not just by scouring the shopping malls. Outside of Prague below the Medieval Karlstein Castle, lies the Karlstein Nativity Museum. The museum specializes in authentic old Czech Nativity scenes dating as far back as the end of the 18th century crafted from the materials of wood, paper and sugar.

Putting a mere 5 crowns into the palm of a monkey figurine can send a three year old into a state of awe and wonderment. The mystery of intricate figurines coming to life is a mechanical craft that was founded in the 19th century. It still proves effective for peaking the imagination of children today. This is one of over 50 other Nativity scenes that are displayed in the Karlstein Nativity Museum. The owner, Romana Treslova, explained why she began such a project.

"My Father had collected Nativity scenes since he was 25 years old. And since his collection severely outgrew our living space we decided to open a gallery to present the work and make it public. So we chose the area of Karlstein and then we found this beautiful Baroque building."

The beautiful Baroque building is visited by hundreds of children every year. A group of boys crowded by the aforementioned nativity scene fervidly looked for another five Crowns before the teacher came back to round them up.

The Karlstein Nativity Museum has been in existence since 1995 and the craftsmanship of the work displayed is truly enough to make your mouth drop, particularly the ones made by gingerbread and caramel. The smallest Nativity scene is housed in the single half of a walnut.

The nativity scene fundamentally was created to remind those faithful of the mystery of the Incarnation and to recall the historical events connected with the birth of the redeemer. But as the popularity of nativity scenes in Christmas tradition increased throughout Europe, various figures and features would begin to appear which reflected each places personal character, their trades and their architecture. The Karlstein Nativity Museum is open all year round and on permanent display is an 80 square meter puppet nativity scene with a backdrop of the Karlstein Castle. The puppets are 30 to 60 centimeters tall and come to life through movement and recorded narration. It's called the Royal Nativity Scene and took me, and the children, to a place of wonderment.