YIMBY recently visited the completed St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which opened its doors on December 5, 2022. Designed by Santiago Calatrava and developed by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the reinforced concrete structure stands 25 feet above street level atop Liberty Park, across from the site of the original 16-acre World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan’s Financial District. Interior paintings were all done by hand by iconographer Father Loukas of Xenophontos.
Visitors to the church pass through a narthex and two lateral hallways before entering the nave through a pair of stone doors etched with cross-shaped cutouts. Near the entrance is a circular painting depicting “The Souls of the Righteous in the Hand of God.” A conch with “The Image of the Deësis” is located between the narthex and nave, depicting Christ in the middle, Saint Nicholas to the left, and Mother of God to the right.
The nave’s design was inspired by a mosaic in Hagia Sophia: the Virgin Mary as the “Throne of Wisdom.” The soaring ceiling is adorned with colorful iconography, with carved marble motifs around its edges. The apex of the dome features an image of Christ surrounded by 20 prophets painted in between the 40 arched ribs and 40 translucent windows. The four curved corners below the dome show the Four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Below are watercolors made by Santiago Calatrava that show the church’s conceptual evolution from mosaic of the Virgin Mary.
Against the eastern wall is a large-scale mural of “The Communion of The Apostles.” The apse prominently depicts the Mother of God as the Protectress of New York City. Below her is the island of Manhattan with some notable landmarks including SOM‘s One World Trade Center, Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the United Nations, a firehouse for the FDNY, the Brooklyn and Verrazzano-Narrows Bridges, the Empire State Building, and the Chrysler Building.
The structure also includes office space on the second and third floors and several community rooms. An elevator bank will eventually become operable, serving a secondary entrance at street level along Liberty Street.
The Pentelic marble-clad building replaces the church’s former sanctuary that was destroyed on 9/11, depicted below.
The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church’s current hours of operation are Sundays from 9:00am to noon, and Monday to Saturday from 11:00am to 2:00pm. Admission is free to the public, and each visitor is asked to light a candle upon entering the church with donations welcomed.
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Absolutely stunning interior… would be worth a visit. 🤗
I passed by this a few weeks ago at dusk when the lights came on. The photos don’t do it justice. It’s simply stunning.
BUT, the sidewalk lighting poles ruin the building and need to be moved away from the building. I really hope that gets fixed.
Spectacular images and this church looks so beautiful!!!
I’m so happy to see this finally reach completion. The whole building is simplistic yet it also possesses so many gorgeous qualities. A great addition to the beautiful New WTC complex.
Happy to see this finally complete , and love the interior paintings !
So interesting to see Calatrava’s design evolution! Such a (seemingly) simple exterior, with an exquisite interior! Instant NYC classic!