A musician friend of mine recently invited me to a concert where he was performing. As part of this church’s Lenten music series, this concert featured baroque music. While I do enjoy baroque music, there was a second reason I wanted to go: the church.
There are many people who dedicate themselves to seeing as many churches as possible on vacations and explorations around the city. I’m not that guy. However, this church was something special.
The church of St. Nicholas of Bari and Saint Peter of Varona (Iglesia Parroquial-Museo de San Nicolás y San Pedro Mártir) is a unique display of amazing artwork that is a perfect setting for both baroque music and rococo architecture. The church is also placed in one of the most historic sections of the city, El Carmen. I have walked by the church many times but never stopped in. The entrance is unassuming and there is a long corridor between buildings to enter the church itself.
I had shared the invitation with a group of friends, and I was surprised so many people wanted to go as well. When I arrived for the concert, there was already a crowd of people waiting to enter. The church has a “crowd handling” team wearing badges and providing information about entering the church. St. Nicholas Church also has regular tours, so the staff members had to weed out people who were there for a tour versus those attending the concert.
Entrance to the event was only five euros, and that was a donation for the parish soup kitchen. My friends and I sat in the pews and enjoyed the ambiance of the church prior to the concert. The lighting was dim, and I did what I could with the photos, but it may be better to visit the church website to see better photos than I could ever provide.
Arriving early for the concert gave me plenty of time to admire the artistry that covered every surface. From incredibly detailed columns to elaborately painted ceilings to the small chapels around the church nave, every surface was decorated. A lot of care and attention has been put in this church since the establishment of the parish in 1238. You won’t see too many ornate stained-glass windows, but you will see a wide variety of Christian symbolism throughout the church.
When the concert started, the church acoustics made the experience quite enjoyable. The event program included contributions from the church organ, flutes, violins, and cellos. Together, the instruments and the church made the concert go by quickly. My personal favorite was a string quartet that performed several musical pieces with an enjoyable dynamic as each instrument could be heard and contributed to the whole performance.
This may be a church to revisit when there are more opportunities to take pictures and read some of the plaques describing various artistic elements on display.