A Belen is a Nativity Scene, a common find in nearly every Spanish home for the Christmas festivities. The Chocolate Belen made by the Galleros factory in Rute, Cordoba province, is rather outside the norm and is the largest in Europe.
The Belen, in the factory itself, is open daily for viewing from early November until early January, but not Christmas or New Year´s Day.
An incredible 1,450kg of chocolate was used to produce this year´s scene of Malaga, as well as the 180 figures made of sugar and marzipan.
Don´t, if at all possible, go at the weekend. It was packed. Coach after coach pulled into the parking area and although they try and stagger the coach loads, it does get really busy.
Pressure was on to keep moving along, which made it tricky to take any decent photos of the Belen, let any study the intricacy of the work.
After seeing the Belen and a measly sample the exit is through the gaily decorated shop oozing with shiny packages of various cakes and nougats. Hard, soft or sugar-free nougat with nuts or dried fruit also crystallised fruit. Too much choice, too many dislikes from the kids, so I bought nothing and escaped for a spot of fresh air, space and sanity before heading back to my coach seat.
This was just one visit in my day packed with factory visits and samples, there´s more to come, watch this space.