Ceiling paintings in Church of Saint Nicholas of Bari and Saint Peter Martyr in Valencia
Church of Saint Nicholas of Bari and Saint Peter Martyr

A brief history

Like so many other churches in Spain, the story of Saint Nicholas Church begins under Muslim rule. At the time, the site was occupied by a mosque, which was later removed to make room for a parish, after the Christians reconquered Spain. Later on, this parish too was rebuilt into the church we can see today.

The memorial of Beato Gaspar Bono’s baptism in 1530 A.D. in San Nicolas Church in Valencia
Several memorials and plaques like this one can be found in Saint Nicholas Church.

However, many of the features we can appreciate in the present day were only added centuries after the initial structure was built, like the Baroque decor of the interior.

  • Before 1200 Mosque

    Moorish rule in Valencia lasted for about five centuries. During this time, on the site, a mosque was built. Some even believe that before that, on the same site stood a Roman temple.

  • 1242-1245 Primitive church

    A primitive parish was built on the site of an ancient mosque. In fact, this was one of the first churches established after the Christian Reconquista.

  • 1419-1454 Gothic transformation

    The pre-existing church began undergoing transformations that brought it closer to the Gothic style popular in Valencia at the time. This happened under the orders of Alfons de Borja, then bishop of Valencia, and later Pope Callixtus III.

  • 1455 Expansion

    The base of the church was enlarged to occupy the plot of land where the parish cemetery (fossar) stood. A ribbed vault was added to the nave. The rose window was made.

  • 16th - 18th centuries Remodelling

    Alterations and expansions would continue all throughout the 1500s, 1600s, and 1700s. Tabernacle rooms, side chapels, passageways, towers, and other elements were added at various points.

  • 1690-1693 Baroque decoration

    The Gothic interior was covered with Baroque decorations, in keeping with the taste of the period. These changes included the replacement of the Gothic vault with an encamonada, a false vault, as well as churrigueresque additions. Churrigueresque is the typical Spanish Baroque, lavish and ornamented.

  • 1700 Frescoes

    On top of the architectural changes, fresco paintings were added to the vaults, pillars, and ceilings by Dionís Vidal.

  • 1757 Bell tower

    The dome, acting as the top of the bell tower, was completed in 1757.

  • 1864 Neo-Gothic additions

    The other door and façade overlooking Plaza de San Nicolás, are neo-Gothic creations by Joaquín María Calvo Tomás.

  • 1936-1939 Civil War

    During the Spanish Civil War, all the bells except the Vicent (dating back to 1755) disappeared. They were later replaced with four new bells.

  • 1981 National Monument

    The Church was declared a National Historic and Artistic Monument.

  • 2000s Renovations

    The bell tower was restored in 2007. The frescoes were brought back to their original splendour in 2016 in a massive feat of restoration.

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