Matera is a city of Basilicata, located in the eastern part of the region and located on the Murgia plateau which extends towards Apulia, and to the south towards the coast of the Ionian Sea. In 1993 UNESCO declared the Sassi of Matera
and part of the surrounding territory of the Murgia Materana Park World Heritage Site
, the first Italian UNESCO site in the South Italy.
On 17 October 2014 Matera was designated European Capital of Culture 2019
is a place with an ancient history that began in the Paleolithic and continued in the following millennia through all the stages of human evolution, the stone age, that of metals, the Middle Ages, up to the present day. The territory of Matera has therefore undergone profound transformations while at the same time preserving a landscape strongly characterized by the natural context of the Matera murgia. This profound link between the civilizations that have followed one another and the nature of the place is still offered today by the spectacular context of the ancient urban nucleus, the famous Sassi di Matera, and by the surrounding rocky landscape dominated by the Gravina di Matera canyon belonging to the Parco della Murgia Materana.
Matera is an exceptional place that amazes visitors for its uniqueness, a place that never leaves you indifferent, able to offer sensations that are difficult to forget. It is one of the rare examples in the world where there are testimonies of a rock civilization or civilizations that developed their existence by settling with houses carved into the rock.
I Sassi di MateraThe Sassi of Matera
are the two districts that make up the ancient urban core of the city.
They extend for about 32 hectares along the eastern side of the canyon formed by the Gravina like two large natural amphitheatres and formed by an overlap of houses and roads that follow the original slope of the rocky slope. The two districts are called respectively Sasso Barisano in the part facing north and Sasso Caveoso on the opposite side, with the Civita hill in the center dominated from the Middle Ages by the Cathedral.
The Sassi of Matera alternate primordial cave settlements with cave and hypogean churches, stately buildings, arches, balconies unique for the style and the particularity of the context. A great example of a historical and cultural urban settlement of rooms carved out of limestone. Due to the exceptional value of this place, the Sassi di Matera have been included in the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
The most common sensation that is felt when visiting the Sassi of Matera is that of being inside a large nativity scene, it is an evocative place where great Masters of national and international cinema have chosen to set their films.
Matera has a fascinating and complex history where different civilizations and cultures have often met and merged since prehistoric times, a city that has always welcomed diversity. The transformations due to the arrival of new people has left traces still visible in the many existing buildings and cave structures. Sometimes art, sometimes simple architectural solutions, these testimonies are mainly present in the rock habitat, constantly shaped by the hand of man from different cultures as in the Middle Ages with the advent of the Byzantines, later of the Normans of the Swabians of the Angioni up to the Bourbons. There are many rules and styles of European origin that have brought architectural solutions and urban arrangements of particular quality and originality.
On the basis of this particular historical event, Matera today offers its visitors the fascinating sensation of discovering, at the original thread of their culture, their emotions, the traces, sometimes apparently humble, sometimes caught, of that competition that has to long characterized the city.