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Church of San Nicolás

Pilgrim's Way to Santiago
Churches and chapels


Church of San Nicolás - Church of San Nicolás
icono pie de fotoChurch of San Nicolás


Church of San Nicolás
The parish of San Nicolás, which dates from the 12th century, was not created just to offer religious services but, above all, to serve as a military and defensive bastion of the people who lived in the borough of the same name. These people were involved in endless disputes and skirmishes with the other two boroughs in the (Navarrería and San Saturnino). In 1222, during one of these attacks a fire burned the old Romanesque church-fortress to the ground, so it was necessary to build a new one, which was consecrated in 1231. Located in the Old Part between the Plaza de San Nicolás, calle San Miguel and the Paseo de Sarasate, its thick walls and railings, and the only one of its three watchtowers that is still standing are witness to its conflictive past. Venture inside the church, a beautiful example of Gothic, which contains a large Baroque organ, the biggest in Pamplona. On leaving the church you will find yourself in the heart of the medieval city at a crossroads of lively streets full of traditional shops and handicraft centres, a high density of bars and, in winter, warmed by the braziers of chestnut sellers.

San Nicolás is the only church in Pamplona that conserves some Romanesque features. On the exterior of the church the Gothic that is so predominant inside is only visible in two of its doors, the apse and some parts of the high wall. Most of the Romanesque church is hidden after the changes made by Ángel Goicoechea in the nineteenth century.

Initially, the church only had one entrance, the one that gives on to the Plaza de San Nicolás. The city later grew in the opposite direction, which led to the urbanisation of the Paseo de Sarasate and the creation of another front (1888). At the same time, the parish residence and the Neo-Gothic façade that surrounds the building on the north and west sides was built. As a military construction it had several towers, but the one that still exists today, with a belfry and merlons, is the work of José Martínez de Ubago (1924), when the church was restored.

Passing inside, you discover the usual design of medieval religious architecture, with a Latin cross layout, three naves with a high choir and an apse in the header, although its elevation is the result of several phases within the Gothic style.

Part of the central wall are protogothic. The cross-ribbed roofs of the central nave, the crossing and the vestry, with its crucifix and walls with stained glass windows, are from the 19th century. All the altarpieces were disassembled in the renovation of 1982, when remains of medieval paintings appears.

Before leaving the church, take a look at the choir. It contains a large Baroque organ that was built in 1769. It is considered the most important organ in the city. Every November 1st a concert-tribute for the local musician Pablo Sarasate is held.

There is another key date in the calendar for this church: February 3rd, the festivity of San Blas, the 'protector of throats'. In Pamplona the popular tradition of taking food to churches to be blessed focuses exclusively on the church of San Nicolás, where the cofradía de clérigos (brotherhood of clerics) of San Blas, founded in 1339, is located.

Every year on this day there is a small procession through the atrium with the image of the saint, and the food is blessed inside the church. In the square behind there is an all-day street market selling roscos (a kind of doughnut) and typical sweets such as piperropiles and caramelos. All of them are blessed by the parish priest. If you have throat problems, they will disappear after you try one of them…

In the evening and night, the area fills up with students that cross the square between San Nicolás and San Gregorio streets, the ones with the highest density of bars in the city.


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