Church of Sant Nicolau

  • Església Parroquial de Sant Nicolau

La Catedral de la Costa


The first church in town, for which the status of parish church was requested in 1560, was dedicated to Saint Nicholas, patron saint of sailors and children, and to Saint Anthony, patron saint of animals and farmers. It used to be on the grounds where the Parish Church of Sant Nicolau (built on the 18th century) stands today and was built as well over an older smaller chapel dedicated to St Anthony. In 1565, a new chapel opened, dedicated to the saints Justa and Rufina, patron saints of pottery, one of the most important local crafts. Its master builder was Joan Soler, author of the parish church of Sant Cebrià de Vallalta too. That same architect devised in 1567 the Chapel of the Rosary, of Marian devotion, that became important in Malgrat because it was dedicated the figure of Our Lady of the Rosary after the victory at the Battle of Lepanto(1571), in which the people from the town had participated. Finally, in 1606, sculptor Claudi Perret was commissioned the altarpiece. He was a master from Burgundy that had great importance in the sculpture market in Catalonia in the early 17th century.

The story of the present church began in 1761, when the architect from Barcelona Francesc Trilles was chosen by people from Malgrat to handle its design. The church as we know it today was finished in 1783. The overall design is functional, sleek and austere, typical of the architectural trend of the period, marked by the first impacts of Neoclassical and anti-Baroque culture. During the Civil War (1936-1939), the church was sacked and burned, and some objects of high value (two monstrances, a cross and the organ) disappeared. Later, in the forties, the church was restored.


The church has a Latin cross floor plan, with a central nave and two side naves, separated by thick pillars and a dome on the crossing. Due to the considerable size of its nave, it is called the Cathedral of the Coast. The central nave is covered by a barrel vault with lunettes and the side naves by groin vault. The weight of the vaults rests on the perimeter walls reinforced with buttresses.

The eighteenth-century neoclassical façade features an undulated cornice and a large doorway of classical lines with a Baroque style niche that hosts the image of Saint Nicholas of Bari and a rose window that illuminates the interior of the nave. Note the portal and the cladding on the central parts in white-gray marble. To the left of the facade, there is a solid octagonal bell tower, also raised in the eighteenth century, which remains unfinished.

High altar

In the centre, there is an image of the patron Saint Nicholas, to the right the image of Saint John and to the left the image of his brother Paul. The latter two are the most recent images, from 1885, and were sculpted when the altar was restored and the church was painted.

Chapel of Sorrows

It is located on the right side of the high altar. The Virgin was placed in a niche in order to be taken to the street in the procession. In 1888, a small Gothic altar with the image of the Holy Christ of Agony was attached to the right wall. Beside it is the image of the Virgin Mary Mourning.

Altar of St. Peter the Apostle

It has great proportions; it might have been the old high altar and so seems to reveal its tabernacle, lifted as if it was a picture. It is Plateresque and the image of Saint Peter is located in the centre. To the right, Saint Michael’s image and to the left Saint Anthony the Abbot’s. In the second dwelling, the apostle Paul is venerated.

Altar of St. Joseph

In the 19th century, it replaced the altar of Saints Justa and Rufina (their bodies are kept in a glass urn). The image of St. Joseph is a precious sculpture gifted by Garriga family in 1883. On the right side, there is the image of Mother of Fairest Love and on the left, the Saint Teresa of Jesus’.

At the centre of the second dwelling, there are images of St. Sixtus and St. Tou (or Hou, from Theobald) martyrs from the fourth century. On the right, you can see the image ofthe guardian angel and on the left, Saint Justina’s.

Altar of St. Lucy

The altar contains the image of the saint, on the right Saint Philomena is venerated and on the left Saint Susanna is.

Altar of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

In the centre, there is an image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. On the right,there is an image of Saint Narcissus (Bishop of Girona) and on the left, a St. Francis of Assisi one. Baroque styled, it was restored in 1912 by the painter Xavier Garriga and a painting about the Souls in Purgatory, the work of masters and Pahissa and Casanovas, was placed there.

Altar of Ecce Homo

Of Catalan style, it was built in 1819. In addition to the image of Jesus being presented to the crowd from the balcony of Pilate’s house, the image of Saint Marià is venerated in this chapel.

Altar de Saint Isidore

Baroque style. Note the Solomonic columns and the delicate decorative work. The image of Saint Isidore is placed in the centre, on the right, there is an image of St. Joseph and on the left, an image of Saint Dominic of Osma. In the centre of the second room St. Anthony of Padua is worshipped. His image is surrounded by small altarpieces depicting episodes of his life.

The bell tower

From the 18th century, it remains unfinished. Only the bells were covered, despite having chiselled stones for attaining the whole. There are four bells: the first and biggest one is from 1816 and was patronised by Mr Mercader; the second one, also from 1816 was cast by Mr Anton Raurell from the Catalan city of Vic; and the third and fourth ones were cast in 1795 by Mr Damià Ventura.

Altar of the Rosary

Baroque styled, it is from the early 17th century. On the right of Our Lady of the Rosary there is an image of Saint Elmo, and on the left, Saint Pontius’. In the upper chamber, there is an image of St. Catherine.

Chapel of the Holy Christ

Enabled as Blessed Sacrament chapel, its altar was restored in 1871. The ancient image of the Holy Christ is venerated in this chapel, along with one of Saint John the Evangelist and one of Blessed Virgin Mary. The image of Christ seems to be from the early 17th century. In the south wall panels, there is a Gothic altar of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus dating from 1890 attached.

On the right column there is a Gothic altar of the Immaculate Conception and on the left column, another Gothic altar of St. Louis Gonzaga. Both altars are the work of Josep Laboria Lafarga.

The pulpit sounding board of the gospel side bears the image of St. John the Evangelist, although erroneously carries the banner of Saint John the Baptist. The lectern sounding board located on the epistle side, is an emblem of belief, a blindfolded image holding a chalice and the Host.

An old oil painting placed near the baptismal font is reminiscent of the baptism of Jesus by John.