Matera is a unique and fascinating town steeped in history. Now elected as European Capital of Culture2019. Is one of the world’s oldest towns dating back as far as the Palaeolithic times, Matera is now a popular tourist spot boasting hundreds of ancient caves, rock churches, delicious local cuisine and luxurious boutique hotels.
The most famous part of Matera is the Sassi district, designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you can see hundreds of troglodyte dwellings and churches dug out of the rock. Explore. The cave dwellings were lived in until the 1950’s and are the most extensive example of their kind in the Mediterranean.
HISTORICAL NATURAL PARK OF THE ROCK CHURCHES OF MATERA
The Historical Natural Park of the Rock Churches of Matera, known in Italian as the ‘Parco Della Murgia Materana’, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is situated within the dramatic gorge known as the ‘Murgia Matera’, an area that extends for about 8,000 hectares between Matera and the town of Montescaglioso. The park consists of over 150 rock churches and includes the Sassi district of Matera.
The Civita district, which is the oldest and highest group of buildings, dominates and divides the two Sassi areas, Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso. The Sassi district is now undergoing stylish renovations. In the newer area, the Cathedral dominates Matera from high up and has been the main social and religious reference point of the Sassi and the entire town for many years. It is worth visiting the Cathedral, and the stunning 13th Century Byzantine fresco.
Over the past 10 years the Sassi has undergone extensive re-development and now hosts some incredible and luxurious cave hotels, private homes and restaurants, lovingly restored to enhance their original features. Explore this complex network of caves, churches, streets, stairways, archways and terraces on foot to experience the best of the city and don’t forget to check out the stunning Cave Hotels for a unique way to discover Basilicata.
Matera Cathedral dominates Matera from the top of the Sassi district and has been the main social and religious reference point of Matera for many years. It is worth visiting the Cathedral, and the stunning 13th century Byzantine fresco.
The bread of Matera (Protected Geographical Indication) is one of the few having this appellation in Italy and is the only one in the Region of Basilicata. It has its origins in Matera, Miglionico and in Irsina and has obtained the temporary protection IGP. It can consequently be produced throughout the Province.
The bread of Matera can be defined as an archaeological product of Mediterranean alimentary tradition. Its excellent and unforgettable flavour, scent, brown colour of crust and pale yellow of crumb allowed this regional product in the earth of Southern Italy to emerge in comparison with the big and diversified production of Italian breads.
The Crypt of the Original Sin is located just a few kilometres from Matera, along the ancient Appian way, in one of the ravines that criss-cross the plateau of the Murgia park of historical rock churches. Here you will find the “Sistine Chapel” of the rupestrian wall paintings. In a rocky hollow overlooking the limestone cliff, the masterly hand of the “painter of the flowers of Matera” has narrated scenes from the old and new testaments in a cycle of frescos dating back to the 9th century AD. Pre-booking is essential.