• Panorama Rouen 1431
    created by Yadegar Asisi in 2016
    photo © asisi

Christmas Crib Diorama Einsiedeln

The largest Christmas Crib in the World: The Christmas story - from the announcement to the shepherds, the scene of the birth of Christ and the arrival of the three kings till the flight into Egypt - illustrated with over 450 wood-carved figures wearing oriental costumes in a realistic reproduction of the environs of Bethlehem.

ThemeThe Christmas crib in the Diorama Bethlehem is built in a half-circle and comprises over 450 figures, 80 m² of plastic landscape and a painted background measuring more than 30 m.

What the viewer sees is not just a fantasy-landscape but a realistic reproduction of the environs of Bethlehem; the seamless transition from the plastic landscape to the painted background creates the perfect illusion of an endless scenery.

The scenery starts on the left side with the shepherd's field where the angels announce the birth of Christ. In the middle it shows the birth cave with Joseph, Marie and the baby Jesus followed by the arrival of the three kings and their caravan. It ends on the right side with the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt.
AddressDiorama Bethlehem
Benzigerstrasse 23
8840 Einsiedeln
Date of creation1954
Beginning of creation1930's (figures)
Artist(s)figures: Ferdinand Pöttmesser; 3D-landscape: Reinhold Zellner; diorama painting: Bartholomew Wappmannsberger
DimensionsDiorama painting: 5,5 x 2,5 m; 3D-landscape approx. 80 m²
Historical referencesIn the early 1930's Ferdinand Pöttmesser, a crib maker from South Tyrol, built a giant Christmas crib with hundreds of figures which he exhibited in South Tyrol, Tyrol and Upper Italy with great success. In 1953 he sold the figures to Einsiedeln.
Taking the Pöttmesser figures as the starting point Dr. William Döderlein, curator of the Bavarian National Museum in Munich, created the concept of the Christmas crib for the Diorama Bethlehem. The plastic landscape was created by the sculptor Reinhold Zellner of Munich. The background which measures more than 30 m was painted by Bartholomew Wappmannsberger of Prien/Chiemsee.
Great stress was put on creating an exact copy of the environs of Bethlehem and to represent the birth of Christ according to biblical tradition. Thanks to the professional skills of the artist involved and their excellent co-operation this goal was achieved in a impressive way. The inauguration of the Diorama Bethlehem took place in 1954.
The map of Judaea on the front of the building was painted in 1958 by Bartholomew Wappmannsberger.
The Diorama Bethlehem was founded as a commercial business in 1953 by Karl Eberle together with his brothers Adelrich and Joseph and his brother-in-law Albert Birchler under the name of "Neues Diorama Bethlehem Ltd".
In 2005 Dr. Adelrich Eberle incorporated the "Diorama Bethlehem Foundation" to which he donated all the shares of the Ltd. company.
Type of art and media formdiorama
Presentation statuson display
OwnerDiorama Bethlehem Foundation