The Sassi of Matera
Matera it presents itself to the visitor in two distinct ways, ancient and modern. The prehistoric Neolithic settlements, the urban core of Civita, the Sassi of Matera, Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso, the historic center and the new city make this urban agglomeration an example of a perfect union between elements that are difficult to integrate with each other. Everything merges to form a soft and rich environment of humanity. These reasons, but not only, have led to the Sassi of Matera becoming a World Heritage Site, therefore of Matera a city registered in the UNESCO lists.
The Sassi of Matera
The Sassi of Matera constitute a city within a city to be visited very carefully. The advice is that, even before entering the Città dei Sassi, to admire it in its entirety from the belvedere of Murgia Timone. This is a gash that offers strong sensations. Emotions that go beyond any possible rigorous description. On the breathtaking scenery, in the center, the high bell tower of the Cathedral dominates and, all around, below, the ancient urban center of Civita.
On the left the Sasso Caveoso, with its characteristic cave houses and rock churches which, gently integrate with the surrounding Murgico landscape, almost forming a natural continuum with it.
On the right the Sasso Barisano with the Convent of Sant’Agostino which, overlooking the ravine, visually and clearly concludes the ancient city.
Materacity of 60,000 inhabitants, has made culture and tradition its calling card. With its simplicity and charm it enchants its visitors. The streets of the historic center, Via Ridola, Via del Corso, Via delle Beccherie, Via San Biagio, Via Duomo and its squares, Piazzetta Pascoli, Piazza Sedile, Piazza San Francesco Piazza Vittorio Veneto, are full of ancient churches, characteristic places, local craft shops.
In this small reality, made of art and crafts of ancient memory and typical products, unique scenarios in the world are offered to the visitor. Numerous cultural activities and clubs that organize exhibitions and events throughout the year; also of great value is the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art of Basilicata, inside the Palazzo Lanfranchi; the Domenico Ridola National Museum which exhibits archaeological finds from the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods
What to see in Matera
Rich in numerous attractions, the historic center offers a wide choice of things to see. There are public and private museums rock churches and baroque churches as well as underground areas formerly used as cellars or for collecting water.
The Sassi di Matera were born as a necessary evolution of an urban space, that of the Civita; a small and very ancient nucleus perched on an impervious hill located close to the ravine torrent, it is literally lapped by the inaccessibility of the karst basins on which the Sassi Caveoso and Barisano will develop in different ways.
Due to its conformation, the Civita was impregnable for a long time, especially during the various periods of siege. Thus it was that with the barbarian invasions, following the collapse of the Roman Empire, it began to assume a strategic role which contributed to the consolidation of its urban structure. In fact, it is transformed into a real fiefdom, completely protected by walls of which the remains are still visible today.
The Sassi of Matera Development
At the time, the two lateral basins of La Civita located outside the city walls were populated by small scattered settlements, the natural cavities of the rock lent themselves to being used as safe shelters to protect themselves from invasions by barbarian dominations. Thus was born, in the south-east of Civita, close to the slope of the ravine that leads to Montescaglioso, the Sasso Caveoso.
This original form of settlement found its highest expression in the Middle Ages with the monastic communities that contributed to the birth of rock art visible in the architecture in the decorative elements of the churches. Larger than the Sasso Barisano, the Caveoso is less built and more characterized by interventions of adaptability.
The area of the historic center overlooking the Sassi of Matera is called Il Piano. Among the attractions we find: the Church of San Francesco da Paola, the Church of San Domenico, the Church of San Giovanni Battista, the Church of Purgatorio, the Church of San Francesco d’Assisi, the Church of Santa Lucia and Sant ‘Agata, the Church of Santa Chiara at the Tramontano Castle.
The attraction among the most visited is the Palombaro Lungo, an ancient testimony on how the few resources of the past could be exploited such as water in a rather arid place like the Murgia
In the Sasso Caveoso
In the Sasso Caveoso are the Casa Grotta del Casalnuovo, the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario, the Casa Grotta del Vicinato, Casa Cisterna, the rock complexes of the Convicinio di Sant’antonio and Santa Maria de Idris which includes the church of San Giovanni in Monterrone, the rock church of Santa Barbara and the rock church of Santa Lucia alle Malve. Do not miss the Church of San Pietro Caveoso (also known as the church of Santi Pietro e Paolo).
Nel Sasso Barisano
In the Sasso Barisano, on the other hand, we find an important museum dedicated to ancient crafts such as the Laboratorio Della Civiltà Contadina Museum. Among the most important rock churches we find the Church of San Pietro Barisano with the catacombs, and the rock complex of Madonna delle Virtù and San Nicola Dei Greci.
Also present is the Casa Cava, a tuff quarry that has been transformed into an auditorium. Numerous artists from the national musical and cultural scene perform here
In the area of the Civita in addition to the Cathedral of Matera it is possible to visit the Casa di Ortega where you can admire many works by the Iberian artist. Also in the vicinity of the Duomo we find the Musma, an important private sculpture museum, and Casa Noha where you can discover the history of Matera through emotions.
Not to be missed just outside Città dei Sassi is the Palomba Sculpture Park, the wwf oasis of San Giuliano but above all the Crypt of the Original Sin. The latter is one of the most important rock churches in southern Italy, rich in numerous frescoes.
Browse all sections of the tourist portal of the Sassi di Matera to find out what the city offers you.
How to visit the Sassi of Matera
Considering that the Sassi of Matera can be walked almost exclusively through alleys and stairways, it is advisable to use comfortable shoes and clothing. The Sassi di Matera are two ancient districts so they have no entry costs like most eighteenth-century churches.
As for the attractions, such as rock churches and museums being managed by cooperatives and associations, they require entrance tickets.
The only way to get to know the history of Matera and the Sassi quickly and completely is with a guided tour with licensed guides through the tours
Discover Matera with our Guided Tours!
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Tourist Guide - Tour of the Sassi di Matera allows you to have a complete overview of what the City of Sassi offers.From 20.00 € /per person
- 2h 30min
- Superb14 Reviews9.3
The Tour with a bee calessino of the Sassi of Matera is a valid alternative to the walking tour to visit the City of the Sassi.From 20.00 € /per person
- 2h 30min
- Superb3 Reviews9.3
The Tour of altopiano Murgico plateau will allow you to get to know the city of the Sassi from another point of view. Book now. Cancellation is FREEFrom 20.00 € /per person
- 2h 30min
- Superb1 Reviews9.0
il Massimo perché non si può dare di più. Meravigliosa, ha superato le mie aspettative. Sono stata 2 giorni e l\'ho girata in lungo e in largo godendomi ogni angolo. Consiglio di fare anche il giro dei sassi con la guida perché anche se si può benissimo percorrere in autonomia, ho trovato molto interessante ascoltarne la storia raccontata soprattutto da gente del posto. Obbligatoria la tappa al belvedere Murgia Timone per vedere lo spettacolo del panorama dei Sassi, soprattutto al tramonto con le luci delle case accese che li fanno sembrare un presepe.
Bellissimo posto, non per niente è patrimonio dell\'umanità!
È risaputa la bellezza particolare dei sassi, lo possiamo constatare nei vari video, foto ecc. ma vederli, conoscerli, nel possibile capirli è altra cosa. L\'espressione di un modo di vivere centenario, una cosa unica e particolare. Sentimenti di fascino, calore, si accavallano e si mescolano con lo stupore che questa città suscita. Almeno una volta nella vita va vista!