Matera is a breathtaking city carved in the rocks in the region of Basilicata, in Southern Italy. It is one of the oldest human settlements in human history, and the area bears signs of human settlements from Paleolithic times until today.
In 1993, UNESCO declared the Sassi of Matera World Heritage Site.
In the 50s, the media branded Matera as the disgrace of Italy due to the extreme poverty and widespread diseases in its ancient Sassi districts.
But today, the city is a different place because of its emancipation and uniqueness.
On the 17th of October 2014, Matera became European Cultural Capital for 2019, which will have a long-lasting positive impact.
Since then, thousands of cultural, musical, and folkloristic events have attracted 900 thousand people in one year. These impressive numbers reflect a first-class destination for tourists.
A visit to Matera begins at the famous Sassi, the two historical stone neighborhoods of the ancient town carved into the local tuff rock (calcarenite: a carbonate equivalent of sandstone).
The two districts of Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso rise from Civita, the most ancient heart of the city, with its majestic Maria Santissima della Bruna cathedral dedicated to Matera’s patron saint.
Matera is a maze of stairways, small streets, and driveways. Ancient Sassi districts blend sacred and profane elements, antique and modern, creating an impression of being in a place beyond time.
But Matera is so much more.
Matera is also known for its monastery complex of Madonna delle Virtù and San Nicola dei Greci that overlooks the Gravina cliff. A few other prominent churches are San Pietro in Barisano, San Pietro in Caveoso, Santa Maria de Idris, and Santa Lucia alle Malve.
The Cripta del Peccato Originale is a significant example of Southern Italian rural art.
It is possible to visit many magnificent buildings in Matera. In Casa Noha, you can watch a film that recreates the local history from its inception to the present.
The National Archeological Museum Domenico Ridola is Matera’s inheritance.
Among the other museums are the “Museo d’Arte Nazionale Moderna e Contemporanea”, the “Museo della Civiltà Contadina” and many others.
Matera is home to the National Museum Palazzo Lanfranchi, a masterpiece of 17th-century architecture.
While touring the town, one can discover the Hypogeum, the houses in the rock, and the Palombari, a large rainwater container.
Finally, there is more to say about Matera.
The city is prone to confrontation. It is an open city for people who don’t want to judge its complex history but appreciate its mesmerizing beauty and what it has to offer.
Because today, Matera exists.