In the wake of a dark moment in history, a new structure now “appears lit from 10,000 candles.” Glistening white as a hopeful symbol for the future, an old Greek Orthodox parish has been reborn in New York’s Financial District.
Created with the purchase of a five-story townhouse, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was consecrated in 1916, becoming the first stop for many Greek immigrants arriving to the city from Ellis Island. On September 11th, 2001, the church was fully destroyed by the collapse of the towers of the World Trade Center. It was the lone non-secular building destroyed in the attacks, prompting an agreement with the Greek Orthodox community and government officials to rebuild on the site once again.
A little over 20 years after that fated day, a new St. Nicholas Church and National Shrine overlooks the tree-lined 9/11 Memorial Park. Designed by acclaimed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the bright pearl structure is inspired by various elements of Byzantine architecture. Calatrava used one of the famous mosaics from the Hagia Sophia, “Virgin Mary as the Throne of Wisdom,” to inspire the shape and central dome of the new church. Tying its roots to Greece, the exterior is laden with Pentelic marble – the same used for the Parthenon of Athens. Fulfilling the wish of church officials to be a bright light in the rebuilt area of the city, Calatrava collaborated with DLR Group to envelop the church’s interior with light and have it noticeably glow on a calm New York evening.
Open since late 2022, the church’s opening marks a new chapter in its congregants’ and the city’s history. Never forgetting the past, but moving forward as one community, one lit candle at a time.