THE SASSI AND THE PARK OF THE RUPESTRIAN CHURCHES OF MATERA (UNESCO – WORLD HERITAGE SITE SINCE 1993)
Out of time! It is a paradox for a city having such a complex history: border town, characterized by contrasts, competition and fusion of different landscapes, civilizations and cultures. At first, the irregular landscape of Murgia Materana ideally supported the “Rupestrian civilization” of Byzantine and eastern origin; then, starting from the coming of the Normans, it was the time of a systematic attempt to force the “Rupestrian town” into the rule based system of the European “culture of the city”. From the Romantic Age to the Renaissance and the Baroque, eight centuries of building and finishing tried to shape the city, to gain over the natural “oppositions” of the prior Rupestrian habitat, creating urban architectures and arrangements, which show particular quality and originality.
The human settlement in Matera is very ancient. The original centre was, and still is, Civita; at its sides, in two karst valleys, the amazing Sassi developed. In the 10th century, groups of shepherds started to settle there and to dig their rustic houses into the soft rock. These areas became so complex to completely occupy the slopes, creating one of the most incredible organized urban structures of the world, an absolute masterpiece of the intelligence and adaptability of human beings working hard to overcome environmental difficulties.
Thanks to the width of the concerned ravine and to the historical durability of the urban settlement, which still exists, the ancient part of Matera can be considered “the capital of the “Rupestrian civilization” which developed in Murgia Pugliese between the 9th and the 11th centuries AC.
Matera is the capital of European Culture 2019.
1 Visit the city center of Matera an have dinner in one of the typical resturants of the Sassi.
2 Guided tour of the Parco della Murgia Materana: you will visit the Sassi di Matera, the Cripta del Peccato Originale, which is known as the Sistine Chapel of the parietal cave art, its frescoes are of Longobardic origin and date back to the IX century, and they are among the most ancient frescoes that you may come across in the Basilicata Region. You will then visit the cave art areas. In the afternoon you can visit the Santa Lucia alle Malve and Santa Maria dell’Idris rock churches and the extraordinary area of the Convicinio di Sant’Antonio.
3 The surrounding areas of Matera are as precious as the city itself, like Miglionico, a small town characterized by the impressive Castello del Malconsiglio: it has Norman origins and overlooks the valley. Your next destination can be the Basilica Pontificia di Santa Maria Maggiore (the Papal Cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore), where you’ll enjoy the invaluable polyptych by Cima da Conegliano and a wonderful Norman crypt. Now, take your time and stroll through the town center and then leave for Montescaglioso.
The park of Murgia, Miglionico, Montescaglioso, Gravina of Matera.
HOW TO GET HERE
The closest airports Karol Wojtila airport in Bari Palese, which is about 60 Km far from Matera. Another airport is Salento airport in Brindisi, which is about 150 km far.
Matera is the last station of the Bari-Matera section (narrow-gauge line) which is part of the railway network of Ferrovie Appula Lucane.
CESP – CENTRO SERVIZI PER LE PICCOLE E MEDIE IMPRESE