The Kraków's Crib is a slender multilevel tower - a very embossed small building made from light, non-persistent material. The characteristic trait of it, especially now, is that it contains a lot of processed and linked elements consistent with Kraków's ancient architecture. It is supposed to be a suitable place of presentation of mystery of the God's Son birth. This tradition comes from Kraków's in the 19th century and it's far away from every other tradition in the world. This custom comes from ancient cult of Jesus birth place in Bethlehem.
In the second half of the 19th century, the society of bricklayers and builders in Kraków formed a new kind of guild, it was the cribs' makers guild. They used to create two kinds of cribs: small, without the small theatre, to put it under the Christmas tree, and the big ones (even up to 3 meters high) with the show played by puppets to the accompaniment of especially written songs. World War I has stopped the tradition of Christmas plays.
The tradition was reborn after the first competitions for the most beautiful crib had been arranged in 1937. Unfortunately, although the tradition of Christmas plays could not be recalled, a new one arose - cribs build especially for the competition. The Kraków's Museum of the History, as a organizer of these competitions and the after competition show, have collected every crib since 1945. At the moment there are 177 items which makes the collection the biggest among the official ones. There are cribs there of all leading artists since 1945.
On the basis of this collection, instead of strict rules of building the crib it is easy to find out the development and changes of this art because of used material, lighting, construction, architecture, embossing, colours and the personalities of the crib. These personalities are to symbolize the times we live, or remind about the anniversaries or other important events of the history. The architecture distinguishes the Kraków's cribs from others. In the first competition's cribs we can see the stylized St. Mary's Church tower and the baroque domes of the Kraków's churches.
Lately the inspiration were the City walls, the Barbican and the St. Florian's Gate. In many cribs we can also find the Renaissance attics of the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), crenulated tops of the Gothic's churches, gavial windows with pinnacles, colourful stained glass and many more themes. For some of cribs makers the most inspirational is the WawelCastle. They very often attaché the Sigmund cathedral theme. For Witold Gauch inspirational were the Gothic's churches' altars: the church of the Dominican friars, Franciscans friars and the Corpus ChristiChurch. The Kraków's crib is not only a fantasy about the atmosphere and architecture of our city, but also very good lesson of the history. A beautiful and thoughtful crib teaches, amuses and moves.