On the Boat to Bethlehem / En el Bote a Belén

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

I HAD NO idea that, in biblical times, Bethlehem was known as Fuengirola and the Three Kings didn’t actually ride camels but arrived by boat. The proof is in the image above, part of the annual primary school belén (Bethlehem, nativity scene) exhibit at the Fuengirola City Museum. So, it has to be true. Right? Then again, Sohail Castle (the 10th-century castle in Fuengirola) also appears in the scene — about 1,000 years too soon. So maybe someone, yet again, is trying to rewrite history. Come to think of it, there WAS a Roman castle on the site before the Moorish castle. Maybe we should just move on.

The first belén, on display alone when you enter the museum (the photos below), is from the personal collection of Miguel Ángel Martín Cuevas, elegantly and playfully done in terra cotta and then polychromed, and inspired by the streets of Naples, Italy, in the 18th century, which I’m sure makes perfect sense to someone.

When I left the museum, I enjoyed the lights in front of City Hall. No questions asked.

Click the images for a closer look.


NO TENÍA IDEA de que, en tiempos bíblicos, Belén era conocido como Fuengirola y los Reyes Magos en realidad no montaban camellos sino que llegaban en bote. La prueba está en la imagen de arriba, parte de la exhibición anual de los belenes de unos colegios de Fuengirola en el Museo de la Ciudad. Entonces, tiene que ser cierto. ¿Correcto? Por otra parte, el Castillo Sohail (el castillo del siglo X en Fuengirola) también aparece en la escena — unos 1,000 años demasiado pronto. Entonces, tal vez alguien, una vez más, está tratando de reescribir la historia. Ahora que lo pienso, había un castillo romano en el sitio antes del castillo árabe. Quizás deberíamos seguir adelante.

El primer belén, que se exhibe solo al ingresar al museo (las fotos a continuación), es de la colección personal de Miguel Ángel Martín Cuevas, realizada de manera elegante y juguetona en terracota y luego policromada, e inspirada en las calles de Nápoles, Italia, en el siglo XVIII. siglo, que estoy seguro tiene mucho sentido para alguien.

Cuando salí del museo, vi las luces frente al Ayuntamiento. No se hicieron preguntas.

Haz clic en las imágenes para verlas más de cerca.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

30 thoughts on “On the Boat to Bethlehem / En el Bote a Belén”

    1. Anne Marie,
      Definitely a Spain thing. We’re small time in comparison to the big cities (only about 75,000 people here).

  1. The figures are so realistic!
    Celebration is an integral part of the Spanish culture and you are reaping the benefits with these beautiful photos.

  2. I agree with both comments, but about the figurines …. I can’t help but think I saw you and SG dining at one of your local hot spots there in the Nativity scene?

    1. Bob,
      You recognized us! It must have been my bald head and the guy wearing a knit hat in the restaurant.

    1. David,
      Creating the figurines from start to finish would be my idea of heaven. I love sculpting figures out of clay. I might have to go to the art supply store today!

    1. Debra,
      I could spend hours exploring some of these belenes. Thanks regarding the gif. A video of it was slow and boring (to me).

  3. What wonderful pictures. In Italy the nativity scenes were called “presepe” and always reflected the neighbourhood that they were built in. I wrote extensively at one point about them and as I recall the whole idea was to position the birth of Jesus in a context that people would be familiar with. It had been a long tradition in various Italian states – said to have been made popular by St Francis of Assisi. It is a particular strong tradition in Napoli where there is an entire street of stores that have everything you need to create your creche. It was fostered there by King Charles III – who created an industry to cater to its growing popularity. I recall one in Rome that had Castello Sant’Angelo in the background so Bethlehem couldn’t have been called Fuengirola it was called Parco Adriano!!!!!!

    1. Willym,
      First, of course you can always share links to my blog. I’m honored! And sorry I didn’t read your comments before I visited your blog today. The history is fascinating. Although I was in Italy a number of times when I was younger, I was never there for Christmas. What an experience that would be.

  4. I love the one the kids made. In the other professionally made one there is even a glass wine cask on the table – very neat. Someone must make their living from making those all year…would be interesting who carves the poopers

    1. Cheapchick,
      Sevilla has an annual market this time of year selling everything for belenes. Absolutely incredible craftsmanship, creativity, and variety.

    1. Willym,
      Thanks. I already did! I would so enjoy starting my own collection. But I’m controlling myself.

    1. Larrymuffin,
      And in Hebrew and Aramaic, it’s House of Bread. But it was named for a fertility god, Lehem (Canaanite). Fascinating.

    1. I should have added my hand for reference. These are larger than usual. I’m guessing the largest figures are about 10 inches tall. (Of course, that’s a man doing the measuring; so they might only be 3 inches.)

  5. I know in old Renaissance paintings, biblical characters were often dressed not for biblical times but for whenever the piece of art was produced. Same goes for the architecture and the lay of the land, so that ancient Canaan always looked like 16th or 17th century Italy or Holland. I think that’s what’s going on with these figurines.

      1. Urspo:
        And what I write about cats will be (possibly) the only NON-misinformation!

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