Castle on the square: Sand to star in Vatican Nativity scene

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The 21 meters (69 feet) high Christmas tree coming from Poland and a Nativity Scene are backdropped by St. Peter’s Basilica after being lit in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Sand castles are coming to the Vatican.

The Vatican said Wednesday its Nativity scene this year will be built from sand and sculpted by an international set of artists.

About 700 tons of sand will be shipped to St. Peter’s Square for the sculpture, which will be the centerpiece of the Vatican’s Christmastime decorations along with a giant tree.

The first phase of construction begins Saturday with the forming of a sand pyramid in the square. Blocks of pressed sand will be made from it. Four sculptors โ€” one each from the United States, Russia, the Netherlands and Czech Republic โ€” were asked to turn the blocks into figures.

The completed scene is scheduled to be unveiled Dec. 7.

The Vatican is known for displaying larger-than-life-sized Nativity scenes that attract thousands of tourists.

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