Don't even think about swearing in this church!
On these walls, you can read the following warning: "En quien jura, en su casa no faltará mal ni llaga". - "In the house of he who swears, there shall lack neither evil nor injury".
You are standing in front of what is considered to be the oldest building in the city. Late Gothic in style, it dates from the 12th century. It coincides with the presence of Gascons in the city, whose great devotion to the Saint and Martyr Vincent led them to build a succession of wooden churches on this spot, each time they were burnt down in a series of fires. Thanks to so many apprentice arsonists, this is the third church of St. Vincent, built on the ashes of the previous ones until, in 1507, they decided to rebuild it in stone, defying anyone to burn down the building we see before us today. Obviously, it hasn't succumbed to the flames since then.
The church has three naves, although a fourth was planned which would have reached Narrika Street, but they ran out of money and had to close off the beginning of the fourth nave. On this wall, there are some projections, called "koxkas" in Basque, where the fourth nave should have started. Thanks to this curious detail, anyone baptised in St. Vicente is called "Koxkero".
Outside St Vincent, we can see an unusual font, where Admiral Oquendo was baptised, among others.
Over the years, many additions have been built on to this church, such as the towers, the Baroque portico or the rose windows. The most recent addition is a sculpture, to be found in the atrium, of Mary holding the crucified Christ by Jorge Oteiza, a renowned sculptor who belonged to a famous Basque artistic movement from the second half of the twentieth century. The side of the church which faces the sea is markedly defensive in character because this stout building formed part of the city defences. On this wall overlooking the Cantabrian Sea can be found some curious little gargoyles – can you spot them?
Originally, St. Vincent was considered to be the church of the poor, as it was situated in the humblest part of the city, in contrast to the church of Santa Maria, which served the wealthy citizens. However, this modest exterior doesn't do justice to the wonderful interior where, as well as a splendid organ, there is an outstanding Romanesque style altarpiece illustrating the Passion of Christ by Ambrosio de Bengoechea and Juanes de Iriarte, dating from 1586. We can also see images of great artistic interest which, until little more than half a century ago, were included in the Easter processions, such as Ecce Homo, Our Lady of Sorrow or Christ recumbent.
It's worth going inside to take a look and breathe in all this history!