Although there are various churches in the Carmen neighbourhood, two are particularly significant in the history of Valencia and the neighbourhood. Even though the neighbourhood used to be (at least partly) the Moorish quarter of the city, nothing remains of the mosque that used to be here.
It’s important to remember that La Seu, the Cathedral of Valencia is not in the Carmen neighbourhood. This is a common misconception, as the Cathedral is actually located in another barrio (de la Seu), which still belongs to the Ciutat Vella district.
San Nicolás de Bari y San Pedro Mártir Church
The Iglesia de San Nicolás de Bari y San Pedro Mártir, also simply known as Saint Nicholas Church, is one of the most visited religious buildings in Valencia. Its fame is due to its unique combination of Gothic and Baroque styles, as well as its spectacular ceiling fresco. This last feature has earned it the nickname Sistine Chapel of Spain.
The history of this building spans centuries. The site was initially (12th century) occupied by a mosque and later cleared out to make room for a church, which kept being altered and remodelled until the 1800s.
Saint Nicholas’ Church is at the edge between El Carme and La Seu neighbourhoods in the Old Town (view map above). In fact, its main entrance is in El Carmen, while the church itself falls within the limits of the Seu neighbourhood.
If you want to learn more about this church, you can check out our article about the Iglesia de San Nicolás de Bari y San Pedro Mártir.
Iglesia de la Santa Cruz
The building that today we call Iglesia de la Santa Cruz (Church of the Holy Cross) was part of the larger Real Monasterio de Nuestra Señora del Carmen. Because of this, the Church is still referred to by many Valencians as Iglesia del Carmen.
The monastery, which gave its name to the Carme neighbourhood, was built in 1281 by the Carmelite monks. Its most notable features are the Gothic and Renaissance cloisters, as well as the Mannerist façade facing Plaza del Carmen.
When the convent was dissolved in the 19th century, part of it became the Church of Santa Cruz, while the remaining part of the old convent is home to the Centro del Carmen Cultural Centre.