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The church of Saint Nicolas

Built in the XVIth century, the church Saint Nicholas is located in the highest point of the village. The terraces of the cemetery surround it. Its bell tower, pediment of grey stones stand out against the horizon and remains visible from a great distance offshore. With its covered porch and its bell tower-pediment, its presents a sober and massive aspect which contrasts with the internal wealth.

In Guéthary we can find the specific arrangement of basque churches, choir and altar widely heightened are overlooked by galleries which surround the only nave. The church was widened and raised in 1859 then renovated in 1970: the lightened decoration emphasized better altarpieces and statues dating the XVIIth century, the decoration painted of beams of the structure, the sculptures of the railings of galleries and the posts of support in Y, each being cut in the same oak.

Witness of the maritime past of the village, an ex-voto, in the shape of a ship, hangs over the nave. The church was registered on the additional inventory of historic monuments in 2001.


Church Street in the early 20th century
Church Street in the early 20th century

Who was Saint Nicolas ?

Saint Nicolas, the friend of the children

Saint Nicolas, bishop of Mire, in Asia Minor, in the 4th century, knew an extraordinary popularity. This one gave rise to diverse legends of which that of 3 children: murdered and put in the salting tub by an innkeeper, St Nicolas resuscitated them. That’s why he is worshipped as the big benefactor of children. Here Santa Claus supplanted him but by imitating him to his bishop’s dress, with beard, crosier and mitre.

Saint Nicolas, patron of sailors

Because Saint Nicolas had released them from diverse dangers, sailors of South of Italie, in the 11th century, seized his relics, in Asia Minor, to shield them to the Muslims.  They transported them at home, to Bari, where a basilica was built in honor of Saint Nicolas.

Saint Nicolas, patron of pilgrims

The road of Santiago de Compostela is marked out by diverse sanctuaries dedicated to Saint Nicolas. The closest are St Nicolas of Capbreton, St Nicolas of Harambeltz (near Ostabat) and St Nicolas of Guéthary.