The "largest nativity scene" in Portugal can be visited from 8 December until 7 January, 2024 in the city of Sabugal.

It took a month and a half of work and some overtime to give shape to the nativity scene built with materials collected in nature. A ton of tree trunks, ivy, moss, reeds and sand helped create and decorate the various scenes represented.

It is “always a challenge” even for those who have been making the nativity scene since the first edition, such as Anita Fernandes, technical coordinator at Sabugal City Council, one of those responsible for designing the nativity scene. She has been with the project since it was first achieved 12 years ago.

Still refining the last details, she expresses “pride” in the work of the team, which consists of ten people who dedicated themselves exclusively to the construction of the nativity scene since 20 October.

The councilor of the Sabugal City Council, Amadeu Neves, confirms that the work is done “with pleasure”. He remembers that the nativity scene was an employee initiative and the Chamber just has to “take advantage of it and support it”.

The mayor has no doubt that “the nativity scene is the soul of the Chamber’s employees”.

This year, the municipality decided to bring the nativity scene back to the city center, after having been built next to the Sabugal Castle in the last three years.

The nativity scene occupies a parking area in front of the Court and the choice of location allowed the nativity scene to be increased to 1,500 square meters.

Anita Fernandes highlights that the most difficult and time-consuming part is always placing the logs. “They are made from chestnut trees, they are centuries old. They remain on the construction site in the open air, rotting and cracking. Some have been used since the first edition. We have to come up with a way to hold them and get everything back on its feet,” she says.

The part of creating the scenes is “the best and most rewarding” of all.

The “largest natural nativity scene” recreates the city of Belém, where the center is the birth of the baby Jesus, but with different scenes from daily life at the time.

“Everything we imagined and learned in childhood about the nativity scene is here”, highlights Anita Fernandes.

The nativity circuit begins with the time tunnel that takes the visitor back to year zero. The journey continues through the desert, where there is the hut of the wise men, the walled part of the city, the king's house and the representation of various professions. There is a watercourse, a bridge, several fishermen and a pasture with animals.

The construction sets the tone for the event “Sabugal Nativity Scene – The Largest Natural Nativity Scene”, which will open on Friday 8 December at 3pm.

This year, Sabugal City Council invested 200 thousand euros in the initiative.

The event includes a Christmas Market, an ecological ice rink, street entertainment, workshops and donkey and cart rides.

Councilor Amadeu Neves highlights the importance of the event, which has already become a hallmark of the municipality and points out that the return on investment is for the local economy.

“There are restaurants that are already taking reservations for groups coming on buses and there have been contacts from travel agencies”.

The councilor also says that for residents who travel to the city to deal with various matters, “it also becomes easier to visit the nativity scene”.

Amadeu Neves believes that the new location [in front of the Court] “could be the best location yet”.