San Nicolas of Bari in Burgos

posted in: Home, Spain | 3

A 10€ ticket to Burgos Cathedral also gives unlimited entry into the church of San Nicolas of Bari in Burgos. You wear a little blue band on your wrist and you show this whenever you enter one of the churches on the ticket. No, it doesn’t wash off – you have to cut it off!

San Nicolas

The church is just above the cathedral on the old main road through the town. The road is also the camino. The building dates from the 16th century but a church has stood on the site for over one thousand years. An ornate front door leads into the church, with St Nicolas in a chair over the doorway.

St Nicholas was a Christian bishop who lived in 270-343 in Myra in Turkey and he is the original ‘Father Christmas’. Not much is known about him but in c.1,000 Italian merchants removed his remains from his sarcophagus and took them to the Italian city of Bari where they are now held in the Basilica of St Nicola. So why is a church named after him in Burgos? And so soon after his remains were moved to Italy?

San Nicolas of Bari in Burgos
Front door San Nicolas of Bari
San Nicolas of Bari in Burgos
Carvings over the doorway
San Nicolas of Bari in Burgos
The apse from street level

Inside the church

Inside the church it is the altarpiece which is breathtaking. It was made in the workshop of Simon of Colonia (c.1450-1511) and it is carved out of limestone between 1503-05. Don Gonzalo Lopez de Polanco1 paid for the piece. How did he make his money? The internet is not very helpful.

Looking towards the main altar beyond the Arch of Cherubim
The heavenly host of 163 angels around the Virgin
San Nicolas of Bari in Burgos
Inside the church of San Nicolas of Bari in Burgos

Extraordinary monuments in the church

There are three eye-catching pieces in the church. The altarpiece of San Miguel was originally the old altarpiece and dates from the end of the 15th century.

Altarpiece of San Miguel

The Last Judgment dates from the beginning of the 16th century was painted by Alonso de Sedano of Burgos.

The Last Judgement

In the 1390s there was a strong outbreak of violence against the Jews in Spain who were forced to convert to Roman Catholicism or leave the country. The Maluenda family were Jews who converted to Christianity. Luis Garces de Maluenda lived in the second half of the 15th century and he was a Canon in the cathedral, and its treasurer. The family were powerful and were also merchants, but again information on the internet s scanty.

Tomb of Pedro de Maluenda, Castro and Miranda
Maluenda mansion in Burgos
Maluenda mansion a short distance from the church

The museum

A passageway filled with plants links the church to its small but rich museum.

San Nicolas Burgos
Passageway between the church and its museum

The Church of San Nicolas of Bari in Burgos is small but atmospheric. It feels like a religious building, unlike the extravagant cathedral. And when I visited it was filled with the scent of lilies, left over from a recent wedding.


  1.  “Piety and the Merchant Patron: A Case study of merchant patronage in early sixteenth-century Burgos (p. 8-9)”

3 Responses

  1. St Nicholas Church and Gardens - Enthusiastic Gardener

    […] St Nicholas Church and gardens stands on the site of a Mediaeval church. The original church was built in the 10th century on a spur of chalky ground which lifted the building above the marshes. St Nicholas was the patron saint of various groups of people, and sailors, and the latter connection is perhaps the most appropriate here. Most recently I came across St Nicholas in Burgos in northern Spain. […]

  2. Evenings in Burgos - London Traveller

    […] The Catholic monarchs received Christopher Columbus in the Casa del Cordon when he returned from his second journey to the Americas. The mansion was created by Simon de Colonia whose work is in the cathedral and San Nicolas. […]

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