Algarvian day trips

A Christmas must see in the Algarve

Presépio Gigante in Vila Real de Santo António

It was a lovely blogging friend who encouraged me to share this third post on the Presépio Gigante in the Centro Cultural António Alexio in Vila Real de Santo António. And I am so glad he did as it even ‘grander’ this year!


Three years ago there were just over 4000 figurines, now there are more than 5000. And it is not just figurines which are added every year to the Presépio Gigante, they also add new buildings. It is quite an extraordinary creation.

You begin your visit in the northern town of Nazareth, the home of Mary. The town is alive with activity, and if you look carefully you can even spot the Roman soldiers making the proclamation which required Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem.

Eventually you find yourself moving away from village life. It takes an even longer time though to make your way through the 100miles of countryside to Bethlehem as there are olive groves to negotiate, rivers to cross and other villages to pass through.

The details are so amazing that I took more than a hundred photographs, but have managed to cut them down to around 50 for this post!

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We caught up with Mary and Joseph in a Roman square, unsurprisingly she was beginning to look quite uncomfortable on the donkey. She still though had two days of travel ahead of her before they arrived in Bethlehem. I wonder where they were when Jo visited last week?

Mary & Jospeh

On the approach to Bethlehem there is a traditional Portuguese fishermen’s hut beside a small harbour, a ship yard and salt pans. Not sure I want the salt from these pans though; can you spot what one of the workers is doing?!

In the hills above Bethlehem is the cave where Mary and Joseph will be residing, one shepherd is already there. I spotted another in the hills beyond. And that wasn’t the only traditional occupation in the hills, there was a bee keeper with hives made out of cork, a woodsman, a vineyard, a man stacking hay and even a nora.

Whilst life in the hills above Bethlehem were not much different to those around Nazareth, the market in Bethlehem is much larger and busier. There are also different stalls, we spotted a tavern and even a bookstall.

One of the delights of this presépio unlike so many others is that they show the journey the magi will be taking and also glimpses of Roman life. Actually I say a glimpse but there is now an enormous coliseum in front of the temple as well as Romans everywhere. It is a truly wonderful as well as enormous historical model.

Moving away from the Romans you find yourself in the desert. Life is a lot tougher out here especially for the hard working camels!

If you are lucky enough to be in the Algarve for Christmas or New Year, we strongly recommend going. It is open until 6th January 2019 and the entrance fee is only 50cents per person. And you of course will see Mary, Joseph and Jesus in the cave!


24 comments on “A Christmas must see in the Algarve

  1. Many thanks for the mention, Becky 🙂 🙂 Just picked this up this morning as I didn’t have my laptop with me and the phone is a bit restrictive. It really is a brilliant display this year and you’ve done it proud. Have a lovely weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, so much detail. You could go more than once and see different things each time. How fascinating. Like Denzil, I was wondering where it all goes for the rest of the year.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow,so amazing..!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You are right, this is magical. A lovely story in exquisite detail.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Stunning. I wonder how they store everything each year. Must take ages to assemble. Fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Uhm, ok (he says as he backs away slowly, sheepishly) you win. 😳😳 This has to be one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Right upon there with this amazing model train display I saw in a train shop where you actually had to go under the 5 levels of trains to stand in the middle to see it all. That was more of a display, this is so much more of an epic historical re-creation. Just jaw-dropping. I can only imagine what it must be like in person! Thank you so much for sharing. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Simply amazing Becky 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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