The liberalization of trade in the Adriatic sanctioned with a license by Charles VI of 1717, the Passorowitz treaty with which trade was developed through Trieste between Austria and the Ottoman Empire, which included the Greek nation (the Greek state did not yet exist) , but above all the edict of Charles VI himself of 1719 with which Trieste was declared a free port, laid the foundations for the development of trade and the settlement of colonies of peoples of other nationalities in Trieste. Particular importance assumed the stock market traders, maritime traders and many wealthy shopkeepers from numerous regions of Greece.One of the first Greeks was Nicolò Mainati from Zante (1734): together with others he formed a single community of Orthodox Greeks with a minority presence of Illyrians, now Serbs. In fact, a Greek term identified religion and not nationality.In 1751, the year of the granting of freedom of worship by Maria Theresa, the archimandrite Om ero Damasceno also obtained to erect, in the area adjacent to the canal, a church dedicated to San Spiridione.In 1770 the difference in language and customs led the Greeks to ask the government for separation from the Illyrians. The Eastern Greek community was thus officially formed in 1782 and the request for authorization to erect its own temple on the seafront was the first act. The construction took place between 1784 and 1795, but the first mass was already celebrated there in 1787.Subsequently in 1818 the original facade was embellished by the architect Matteo Pertsch, a pupil of the Milanese Piermarini, named here for this and many other works by Demetrio Carciotti; the temple was closed by a new gate. The façade is articulated on six Ionic pilasters on a high base and is crowned by an enlarged tympanum on which two bell towers rise with probable German Baroque influence. The well-concerted bells, cast in Udine by Cobalchini, spread a harmonic sound.
Above the entrance door, under the semirosone, the epigraph on black marble recalls the construction permit granted by the sovereigns of Austria and the aforementioned restoration: “With the permission of the August sovereigns of Austria, the Greeks built this consecrated temple in 1786 to the SS. Trinità and their patron San Nicolò in order to be able to practice religion there according to the rite of their fathers and then in 1819 they restored and possibly embellished it “. The Greeks of Trieste dedicated the new temple to San Nicolò and to the Holy Trinity: to this, as the root and end of the whole Christian world, to the Saint for the veneration enjoyed throughout the Levant and because it is the patron saint of the people who experience seafaring activities . In fact, Trieste had been devoted to him for centuries: the oldest shipyard was also named after San Nicolò. A regular plan, it is divided into three liturgical spaces: the presbytery with three small apses, the nave and the two balconies for the gynoecium and the choir .

The magnificent iconostasis divides the presbytery reserved for celebrants from the nave accessed by the faithful.The nave with a marble floor with black and white squares is softened by stalls along the walls. In the center, between large candelabra, the icon of San Nicolò is flanked and, on the special proskinitirion, the icon that recalls the festivity in progress. The large canvas depicting Christ in glory surrounded by angels covers the entire flat ceiling and is rich of perspective effects with balustrades and glimpses of classical architecture. This painting (oil on canvas) can be attributed to an anonymous Greek painter educated mainly at the Ionic Academy of Panaghiotis Doxaras (1662-1729) not without influences of the Venetian school. Between the windows images of the Evangelists and the Apostles. On the side walls two large paintings by Piranese Cesare dell’Acqua (1821) depicting the Preaching of John the Baptist on the left and Christ among the children on the right; the picture above the right door depicts the Filoxenia, or Abraham’s hospitality towards the angels, and is attributable to the same hand as the ceiling canvas. The iconostasis in the Orthodox places of worship separates the presbytery from the faithful: it spreads a sense of richness with the shimmer of silver that frames and covers the icons that compose it.Fulcher of the sacred place, it is the work of an unknown carver and reflects the Empire style in the general structure and of Baroque style in the decoration.

Similar to the one that had been executed by Treppan (1794) for the old San Spiridione, it rises on three registers and opens onto the presbytery with three doors called “regal”: in the center of the carved and gilded wooden doors are inserted oval painted in tempera. On the crown, made with spirals and scrolls, there is the Crucifix between the Madonna and St. John, decorated with symbols of the evangelists made by the same hand that decorated the “royal” doors. The three canvases of the upper register depict Jesus in Gethsemane, the Deposition and the Noli me tangere.In the middle register the iconostasis bears twenty-one icons in tempera on wood with a gold background depicting the Life of Jesus, from the Annunciation to the Ascension, made by the Greek painter Giovanni Trigonis ; during the year these are exhibited on the proskinitirion for the veneration of the faithful. The Trigonis, a native of the Ionian islands, worked in Trieste from 1786 to 1833 and opened a school of painting there which was then entrusted to his son. The eight despotic icons of the lower register , made by Trigonis himself: six of the splendid embossed silver covers are due to the Greek artist Costantino Ghertzos working in Venice and dated 1839-1856. These icons recall, in order from the left, San Giorgio, San Spiridione, San Nicolò, the Madonna and Child, Christ Enthroned, the Trinity, San Giovanni Precursore and Santa Caterina. Giorgio and Santa Caterina, the first are due to Russian goldsmithing in 1848, and the second to a Trieste artist.

At the time of the consecration of the church (1787), the Greek community of Jerusalem donated eight small icons that reproduce in a reduced size, the images of the large icons described here, the silver covers of which allow only a few details to be glimpsed. These icons, which show themselves on elegant shelves below, are attributable to a hand that has assimilated late Baroque motifs while operating in the Palestinian area.The altars of the presbytery, visible from the royal doors of the Iconostasis, are inserted in small apses. central appear frescoes with the Saints Giovanni, Giacomo, Basilio and Atanasio that surround the SS. Trinity and the Madonna; in the lateral apses on the left the Nativity and on the right the Deposition from the Cross.The wooden pulpit, richly decorated with gilded stucco, shows four tempera panels depicting the four evangelists while on the entrance door is depicting the Christos Basileus, all by Trigonis. The pulpit is crowned by an Austrian frieze, a sign of gratitude for the concession, received by the rulers of the house of Austria, to the construction of the new church.The balconies, placed above the entrance door and partially on the sides, are supported by shelves and columns; the lower one, once the gynoecium, is decorated with ten panels in oil on canvas, attributable to the same hand that created the upper register of the iconostasis.

They depict biblical scenes such as, in order, The Sacrifice of Isaac, The Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, The Creation of Eve, The Expulsion of the Merchants from the Temple and The Dream of Jacob. The upper balcony, which forms the stage for the singers , is decorated with canvases depicting the death of Abel, Jonah fleeing from the whale and Noah’s family after the flood.During the festivities of Holy Week and Easter particularly heartfelt celebrations take place: the representation of the Holy Sepulcher takes place through the Epitafios, a wooden sculpture of the end of the 18th century attributable to a local artisan workshop.Suspended on 10 columns, the canopy is surmounted by three domes: in its upper part fourteen polychrome tables describe the passion and death of Christ, from prayer in the garden to the deposition from the cross.

The Greek community contributed significantly to the development of the city by founding commercial firms, shops for port markets and insurance institutions, also increasing the artistic and architectural furnishings with numerous buildings and also intervening in the social sector, reaching a maximum number of 5000 people. and changed socio-economic conditions, resulting from the first great conflict and the Italo-Greek war of the 1940s, put the Community in difficulty. Today it is made up of about 600 Greeks, they live and tenaciously strive to continue to give good witness to the hopes of the nation and the light of Orthodoxy.
It is said that women wishing for a child rubbed themselves near the gate of the Church of San Nicolò to hear their wish.

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