Elaborate sand sculptures depict the birth of Jesus

The Gran Canaria Nativity Scene on Las Canteras Beach is world-famous.

ByHayley Bartels
December 8, 2017, 6:11 PM
PHOTO: People pose for a selfie in front of sand sculptures depicting Christmas nativity scenes on the international beach resort of Las Canteras in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the Spanish Canary island of Gran Canaria on Dec. 7, 2017.
People pose for a selfie in front of sand sculptures depicting Christmas nativity scenes on the international beach resort of Las Canteras in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the Spanish Canary island of Gran Canaria on Dec. 7, 2017.
Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images

— -- The world's best sand sculptors come out each December to help build a giant nativity scene on the Las Canteras Beach in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.

PHOTO: A sand sculpture depicting Virgin Mary and baby Jesus is part of other Christmas nativity scenes on the international beach resort of Las Canteras in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the Spanish Canary island of Gran Canaria on Dec. 7, 2017.
A sand sculpture depicting Virgin Mary and baby Jesus as part of other Christmas nativity scenes on the international beach resort of Las Canteras in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the Spanish Canary island of Gran Canaria on Dec. 7, 2017.
Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images

The tradition was started by Canarian artist Etual Ojeda in the early 1980s, when he began creating sand sculpture works centered around the nativity scene, featuring the traditional imagery of the Virgin Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.

PHOTO: A sand sculpture depicting Christmas nativity scenes on the international beach resort of Las Canteras in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the Spanish Canary island of Gran Canaria on Dec. 7, 2017.
A sand sculpture depicting Christmas nativity scenes on the international beach resort of Las Canteras in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the Spanish Canary island of Gran Canaria on Dec. 7, 2017.
Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images
PHOTO: People visit sand sculptures depicting Christmas nativity scenes on the international beach resort of Las Canteras in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the Spanish Canary island of Gran Canaria on Dec. 7, 2017.
People visit sand sculptures depicting Christmas nativity scenes on the international beach resort of Las Canteras in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the Spanish Canary island of Gran Canaria on Dec. 7, 2017.
Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images

Ojeda continued for a number of years, adding a new element to the Christmas scene each year, with other sculptors joining in.

PHOTO: People visit sand sculptures depicting Christmas nativity scenes on the international beach resort of Las Canteras in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the Spanish Canary island of Gran Canaria on Dec. 7, 2017.
People visit sand sculptures depicting Christmas nativity scenes on the international beach resort of Las Canteras in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the Spanish Canary island of Gran Canaria on Dec. 7, 2017.
Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images

Today, the sand sculpture nativity scene has grown into the largest open-air sand sculpture in the world.

Built by artisans from nine different countries, the sculpture uses over 2000 tons of sand, according to the Gran Canaria Tourist Board. It was visited by over 200,000 people in the last year alone.

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