The church-fortress of San Nicolás (XII century) was the main religious building in the burgh of San Nicolás. Its main purpose was to defend the burgh from its neighbours and, to this end, it was equipped with thick walls, wrought-iron railings and three watchtowers, of which only one, restored in 1924, remains. It is now one of the landmarks in the city’s Historical Quarter and presides an area of great commercial activity by day and a lively atmosphere by night.
The church is set out in the form of a Latin cross with three naves. The layout, the pointed barrel vaults of the three side naves and part of the central wall are Proto-Gothic; the ribbed vaults of the central nave, the cross and the presbytery, with its crucifix and stained-glass windows, date from the XIV century. All of the reredos were removed following restoration work in 1982.
The Gothic interior is barely reflected on the outside, bar two doors and parts of the high wall. The rest was concealed following Ángel Goicoechea’s (1888) renovation, which included the parish house and the façade on the Paseo Sarasate side, and the Neo-Gothic portico which lines the building on the north and the west. The bell tower and the merlons are the work of José Martínez de Ubago (1924).
Inside the church, the great Baroque organ catches the eye. Dating from 1769, it is, together with the one in Santo Domingo, the most important organ in the city. It is installed in the choir.
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