Angel sculpture in Saint Nicholas of Bari and Saint Peter Martyr’s Church in Valencia

Architectural elements and style

The Iglesia de San Nicolás y San Pedro Mártir is probably the best example of the coexistence of a 15th-century Gothic structure with 17th-century Baroque decoration in Valencia.

The structure

The church has a single nave with six aisles and five shallow side chapels on each side between the buttresses (structures built against or projecting from a wall that serves to support said wall).

Saint Nicholas Church has six buttresses on each side, but the two in the middle (one per side) are occupied by the side entrance doors. At the foot of the building, on the western end, there are also two more chapels and another entrance door.

The structure of the Church of Saint Nicholas of Bari and Saint Peter Martyr in Valencia
The side chapels on open up to the central body of Saint Nicholas Church.

The church also has a polygonal presbytery facing east - that is where the space reserved for the officiating clergy. The nave is covered with a simple ribbed vault. It measures 41 m in length (about 135 feet) and 13 m in width (about 43 feet).

Behind the main chapel (the most notable one, corresponding to the presbytery) we can find the tabernacle room.

The style

What of course is most notable about the style of the Church is the coexistence of Gothic and Baroque elements. While the majority of the Gothic elements rest in the structure of the building, and are thus more visible from the outside, on the inside we can still appreciate the Gothic windows with pointed arches and polychrome stained glass.

Gothic window in Church of Saint Nicholas of Bari and Saint Peter Martyr in Valencia
The blend of Gothic (the windows) and Baroque (the painted decorations) styles can be fully appreciated inside Saint Nicholas Church.

In the same style, on the exterior, we can identify the simple doorway, formed by pointed arches and surmounted by an ogee arch. The flared archivolts rest on slender columns free of decoration.

Under the apex of the ogee arch, there is a curious relief, with a plate of meat, alluding to a grotesque story regarding one of Saint Nicholas’ miracles. Above all this, is a Gothic rose window, made in the likeness of the Star of David (also called Solomon’s seal), found on the Apostles’ door of Valencia Cathedral.

In the interior, of course, the integration of Baroque decoration, made at the end of the 17th century, is much more evident. Typical of this style, and found in the frescoes of Saint Nicholas Church are greatly dramatic depictions, rich, deep colours, with intense lights and dark shadows.

The shapes of the figures depicted are full and the profusion of details is almost overwhelming, the eyes have nowhere to rest. Other Baroque elements can be found in the altarpieces made in gilded wood with excessive and overflowing decoration.

Fresco in Church of Saint Nicholas of Bari and Saint Peter Martyr in Valencia
The details and fullness of the painted decorations in Saint Nicholas Church are so profuse that it can almost be overwhelming, in typical Baroque style.

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Architectural elements and style