Photographer's Note

Church of San Nicol - Spoleto
The monumental complex of San Nicol is located in Spoleto, downstream from the cathedral, in an area of late medieval urban expansion, close to the pre-Roman city walls. It includes a former church, a former convent and two cloisters. Today it is simultaneously a theater, an exhibition center and a congress center. The complex was built starting from 1304, by the Augustinians, where there were, since the first years after the year 1000, two churches: San Niccol di Bari and San Massimo.
It is very interesting and rare, because it is an example of the early Gothic style. The church was heavily damaged by the earthquake of 1767, so much so that it was then completely abandoned and only recovered at the end of the 20th century. In ancient times it was a very active center of religious and cultural life, especially until 1500: in 1512 it hosted Martin Luther who studied in his rich library.
It underwent a progressive decline in the eighteenth century until the coup de grace, represented by the earthquake of 1767. So it was abandoned, and used in the strangest ways: as a stable, warehouse, makeshift shelter, barn, blacksmith's forge, electrical cabin, covered market of truffles, mechanical workshop with bronze foundry for repairs of steam engines, up to factory of weights and measures, around 1905. Already in 1873 the bell tower added in the fifteenth century had been demolished.
It remained in this state of neglect until our times. Only in 1960 was it recovered.
The faade, on via Elladio, is very simple and linear, with two gabled pitches, but with a beautiful ogive portal, and, in the lunette, the fresco of the Madonna and Child between Saints Augustine and Nicholas (1412).
The interior of the church, covered with a trussed roof, consists of a single, wide nave, today almost completely devoid of the decorations, frescoes, sculptures and chapels that had enriched it from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. The very high semicircular polygonal apse is divided by pilasters and surmounted by a ribbed vault resting on very high piers; along the walls there are fragments of frescoes; at the top there is a hanging gallery that takes light from mullioned windows open inwards and arranged in the intervals between the ribs. At the bottom, three other larger mullioned windows open outwards.
The convent, built on the oldest part of the city walls, still partially preserves the original structure. The cloisters were built in different periods: the first dates back to the 14th century, contemporary with the church, and rests on one side of the church; it is supported by polygonal pillars of white and red stone decorated with elegant capitals. On both sides there are sepulchral slabs of the fourteenth century epigraphs. In the corner of the cloister, what remains of the bell tower erected in 1470 on the initiative of Fra Servadio da Spoleto is visible, as reported by an inscription in situ. On the remaining sides the cloister has no galleries. In the 1400s, a second, more modest two-tier cloister was added, entirely in brick. In addition to the theater itself, which seats 450, another congress hall is on the first floor, with beautiful views over the Spoleto valley.
Underneath the apse, the church of Santa Maria della Misericordia to which you can go down the alley of the same name to the right of the complex.

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Photo Information
  • Copyright: Silvio Sorcini (Silvio1953) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 18518 W: 130 N: 39243] (210579)
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  • Date Taken: 2004-11-07
  • Exposure: f/0.8, 30
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  • Date Submitted: 2020-10-22 3:59
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Points: 32
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Additional Photos by Silvio Sorcini (Silvio1953) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 18518 W: 130 N: 39243] (210579)
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