Wroclaw

Church of Our Lady on the Sand

  ul. Św. Jadwigi 1 ,   Old Town          (+48) 71 327 11 59     11 Dec 2018
This massive three-nave brick church on Piasek Island traces its beginnings to the mid-12th century, with a brick monastery then built in the 13th century and construction beginning on a Gothic church soon after. Additional chapels and towers were added over the centuries until the monastery was secularised in the 1800s, becoming a space for museums and a library. The church was severely damaged during the 1945 Siege of Breslau, and largely reconstructed in the late 1950s. Most of the original antique furnishings were lost during WWII, and those we see today were largely moved here from other churches across Lower Silesia.

Today the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary is notorious for its unique nativity scene ('szopka'), which is on display year-round. The szopka's first incarnation was created by Reverend Kazimierz Błaszczyk in 1967 to benefit blind and deaf children, and each year it has expanded. This famous nativity scene is fully electrified, illuminated and also motorised; in addition to traditional figures like shepherds and animals, dozens of toys and other unique moving objects and characters are incorporated. In fact, there are two versions of the szopka. Throughout most of the year visitors can see a small moving szopka of Joseph and Mary's house in Nazareth. During the holiday season (from December 24th until the end of January), however, see the expanded szopka in all its festive glory as the scene shifts to the manger with baby Jesus surrounded by a broad cast of characters. A visit to this szopka has become part of holiday tradition for local families, so don't be surprised to see a long queue outside the chapel where it's displayed.

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