José Cortes, the man behind the mechanically automated nativity scene which for years has delighted residents and tourists during the festive season in Lagos, has decided to donate his iconic creation to Lagos Council.
Cortes began making the nativity scene in 2011, adding new elements to improve and expand it year after year.
The scope of the nativity scene is impressive with 275 figures depicting human characters, 368 figures depicting animals, 38 houses, several windmills, a church, a school, a bandstand, a noria with a donkey and ox carts. Traditional activities such as olive harvesting and other farming features are also depicted.
The entire nativity scene is brought to life with “complex mechanisms that give movement, light and even water to the represented figurines and scenes,” the local council says.
As anyone who has visited Lagos during the Christmas season will likely know, admiring Cortes’ nativity scene has become something of a “ritual”.
“In order to continue this tradition, the author has decided to take a new step in the partnership that already exists and has decided to donate the nativity scene to the local council, in order to guarantee that it will continue to be exhibited and visited during the Christmas season for years to come,” the council adds.
The local authority also unanimously approved a proposal to award José Cortes with a ‘voto de louvor’ (vote of honour) for his “work and dedication”.
The nativity scene will be on display between December 2 and January 6 at Lagos Cultural Centre.
José Cortes was born in Parchal (Lagoa) in 1936. His love and knack for craftsmanship was notable from an early age, as he is said to have built many of his own childhood toys.
He started his career in the clothing trade in Portimão before moving to Lagos in 1966 to open his own business. He owned several stores in the town but became best known as the owner of a clothing store in the centre of Lagos.
Although he always felt fulfilled with his professional life, he developed his craftsman skills in his own free time.
The idea to create his own automated nativity scene came to him in 2011 after he retired. Little did he know at the time that it would grow to become one of Lagos’ main Christmas attractions.