History of the Church of San Nicolas in Bilbao
The Arenal is a very pleasant promenade today, but this was not always the case. El Arena was a marshy area located outside of Bilbao. It was a fishermen’s district. The Arenal translates literally as the “sandy place” and a pier existed here.
The Church of San Nicolás we find today is built on an old medieval hermitage. This hermitage was built in honor of San Nicolas de Bari, patron saint of sailors. The hermitage was expanded as the population in the area developed, but this church was totally destroyed by the important floods that took place in Bilbao in 1553.
Today´s church of San Nicolás de Bari was completed in 1756 and is a Baroque building. The area where it stands is very different from the place where the church originally stood. Think of docks, grey warehouses, and mood… if you get the picture right and you walk through the Arenal today you will understand the deep transformation of the city of Bilbao during the last part of the XXth century.