Every year, among the natives most visited and commented of the Community of Madrid, which is located in the atrium of the Cathedral of the Almudena It stands out for its monumentality, the quality of the figures and a great staging with lighting and sound accompanying the narrative story. The star representation of Christmas past with the figures of artisan José Luis Mayo and with the installation of Félix Castedo. Do you want to know more about this Nativity scene with biblical setting?


The assembly of the Bethlehem of the Almudena

For some years now, the priest Félix Castedo and a select group of Native American volunteers are in charge of setting up one of the most popular artistic representations of Christmas in Madrid. The Bethlehem of the Cathedral of Santa María la Real de la Almudena, or Belén de la Almudena, has fulfilled in 2016 its 24ª edition under the direction of Father Castedo.

In the words of Castedo himself in an interview to Infomadrid, the 2016 nativity script "It begins by narrating the registration in the town, the arrival of Mary and Joseph looking for an inn, the birth, the announcement to the shepherds and the arrival of the magi, asking in Jerusalem." An story that every Christmas is pampered at the same level as houses or electronic effects.

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Father Castedo in full assembly. Image: Infomadrid

The construction of the crib begins a year before its final assembly with a landscape base in polyurethane foam, on which the houses and constructions of cork or porexpán are attached. An arduous work of carving and painting totally manual. The assembly, once the construction work is done, takes just over a month. Of course, it seems that the final result, which can be enjoyed by visitors at Christmas, is well worth it.


José Luis Mayo and Father Castedo, the artists behind the Bethlehem de la Almudena

The craftsman José Luis Mayo, resident in Madrid, is responsible for the figures of great realism with which the Bethlehem of the Cathedral of Almudena dresses its protagonists. To achieve the perspective of the nativity scene, Mayo produced figures of 35 centimeters for the foreground and 7 for the background, achieving a depth sensation that is enhanced with light games of the assembly.

But the Belén de la Almudena is more than a simple artistic montage. Felix Castedo and his team are in charge every year of achieving a dynamic exhibition, where the figures come to life thanks to the simultaneous narration of evangelical passages and the impressive play of light and sound provided by the electronic components of the nativity scene. A script between 6 and 8 minutes - it can vary every year - that will awaken the belenismo in anyone who witnesses it for the first time, and reaffirm their passion to those who repeat their visit every season.

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Detail of figures of JL Mayo. Image: www.kedin.es


The Bethlehem of the Almudena, at the forefront of lighting control for nativity scenes

The spectacular nature of the Bethlehem of the Almudena is given, in good part, by the computerization of its lighting, carried out several years ago. FMAS Automation is in charge of supplying the nativity scene with both the control equipment and some special effects elements. In the last montage, 29 were the individually illuminated scenes, which together with the different lighting cycles gave an excellent brilliance to the manger.


Detail in the illumination of the Bethlehem of the Almudena. Image: madridcultura.es

3 devices of the WS series of FMAS, connected in parallel, are responsible for controlling up to 60 programmable outputs by computer. It is the high range of the Cordoba firm, soon replaced by the new controllers of the L800 series. But also, the Bethlehem de la Almudena has image projectors, fog effect machine y smoke machine to simulate bonfires.

La LED technology has also been incorporated into this popular manger, that last year included special light bulbs flame effect for the torches of the lighting of the streets of the representation.


Undoubtedly, a perfect excuse to escape to Madrid next Christmas, in view of the surprises that Father Castedo may have prepared for the next edition of the Nativity Scene of Almudena, his crèche, with which the Reverend will celebrate his particular Silver Anniversary. Do you sign it in your agenda?


Fecha: 13 / 01 / 2017|Categories: Nativity scenes around the world|Tags: , , |


  1. Juan Carlos 26/11/2019 at 09:49 - Reply

    Good Morning. Can you visit the Nativity Scene of the Almudena Cathedral next December 20? Thank you.
    Juan Carlos

    • Víctor Barranco 26/11/2019 at 11:08 - Reply

      Good morning, Juan Carlos.
      We recommend you to contact the Directorate of the Cathedral itself to inform you of it; We are an outside company and without responsibility in said Bethlehem.

      Greetings and thanks for visiting our blog.

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