The City of Rocks, “la Città dei Sassi“: this is how Matera is called.
If you look at Matera, you understand why.
The ancient city is literally carved in the rock, a beautiful art work originated by the natural caves lately shaped according to the population’s needs.
The first settlement dates back to the Paleolithic: at the beginning people used to live in natural caves, then they learned how to dig the rock and make the most of the natural features of the area.
Matera went through several ages, each of whom added something to its cultural and artistic patrimony: cave churches mixed to burial areas, buildings from Middle Age, Renaissance, Baroque and much more.
The result is a spectacular town, unique in Italy and in the world: this is why in 1993 Matera was listed UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.
After being cleared out in 1952 due to the enormous deprivations suffered by the residents, the ancient city started to be repopulated in 1986.
What to visit.
It is difficult to say as you should visit every single corner of this city.
Cave Churches are definitely one of the most incredible attractions.
You can reach Santa Lucia alle Malve, first female Benedictine settlement built in the 8th century, Santa Maria de Idris, carved in an evocative rocky spur and linked to another church, San Giovanni in Monterrone, famous for its frescos.
It preserves some of the most ancients wall paintings of the whole area and it is a magic tiny place you can’t miss.
Discover how people used to live visiting the Casa Grotta (Cave House): an ancient tiny house dug in the rock and perfectly equipped for the family’s needs.
During your stay, take a car and reach the Cripta del peccato originale (Original Sin Crypt): it is just outside Matera and the road you take offers an unforgettable view over the Gravina, the creek which shaped a proper natural canyon.
The Cripta is named “Cappella Sistina del rupestre” (Rocky Sistine Chapel) for its artistic importance: in the cripta you can see a very ancient group of beautiful frescos from the 8th-9th century.
And then just walk through the alleys, enter every church, breath the charming atmosphere of this city which seems beyond time and space.
In 2019, Matera will be the European Capital of Culture: one more reason to discover this spectacular town!
See more here and dream about this gorgeous destination!
Matera will win you over!