Matera (Italian pronunciation: [maˈteːra] or locally
[maˈtɛːra] ( listen)) is a city and a province in the
region of Basilicata, in Southern Italy. It is the capital of the
Matera and the capital of
Basilicata from 1663 to 1806.
The town lies in a small canyon carved out by the Gravina.
Known as "la Città Sotterranea" (the Subterranean City),
one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, having
been inhabited since the 10th millennium BC. Its historical center
"Sassi", along with the Park of the Rupestrian Churches, is considered
World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site by
UNESCO since 1993.
On 17 October 2014,
Matera was declared Italian host of European
Capital of Culture for 2019 with the Bulgarian town of Plovdiv.
2 Main sights
2.1 The Sassi (ancient town)
2.2 Monasteries and churches
2.3 Cisterns and water collection
2.4 Other sights
4 European Capital of Culture
5 Notable people
8 Twin towns
10 See also
12 Other sources
13 External links
Stairways in Matera.
The area of what is now
Matera has been settled since the
Palaeolithic. The city was allegedly founded by the Romans in the 3rd
century BC, with the name of Matheola after the consul Lucius
Caecilius Metellus. In AD 664
Matera was conquered by the
became part of the Duchy of Benevento. In the 7th and 8th centuries
the nearby grottos were colonized by both
Benedictine and Basilian
monastic institutions. The 9th and 10th centuries were characterized
by the struggle between the Byzantines and the German emperors,
including Louis II, who partially destroyed the city. After the
settlement of the Normans in Apulia,
Matera was ruled by William
Iron-Arm from 1043.
After a short communal phase and a series of pestilences and
earthquakes, the city in the 15th century became an Aragonese
possession, and was given in fief to the barons of the Tramontano
family. In 1514, however, the population rebelled against the
oppression and killed Count Giovanni Carlo Tramontano. In the 17th
Matera was handed over to the
Orsini and then became part of
the Terre d'Otranto di Puglia. Later it was capital of Basilicata, a
position it retained until 1806, when
Joseph Bonaparte reassigned it
In 1927 it became capital of the province of Matera. On September 21,
1943, the Materani rose against the German occupation, the first
Italian city to fight against the Wehrmacht.
The Sassi (ancient town)
Main article: Sassi di Matera
Matera has gained international fame for its ancient town, the "Sassi
di Matera". The Sassi originated in a prehistoric troglodyte
settlement, and these dwellings are thought to be among the first ever
human settlements in what is now Italy. The Sassi are habitations dug
into the calcareous rock itself, which is characteristic of Basilicata
and Apulia. Many of them are really little more than caverns, and in
some parts of the Sassi a street lies on top of another group of
dwellings. The ancient town grew up on one slope of the rocky ravine
created by a river that is now a small stream, and this ravine is
known locally as "la Gravina". In the 1950s, the government of Italy
used force to relocate most of the population of the Sassi to areas of
the developing modern city.
Until the late 1980s the Sassi was considered an area of poverty,
since its dwellings were, and in most cases still are, uninhabitable.
The present local administration, however, has become more
tourism-oriented, and it has promoted the regeneration of the Sassi
with the aid of the Italian government, UNESCO, and Hollywood. Today
there are many thriving businesses, pubs, and hotels there.
Monasteries and churches
Matera preserves a large and diverse collection of buildings related
to the Christian faith, including a large number of rupestrian
churches carved from the soft volcanic rock of the region. These
churches, which are also found in the neighboring region of Apulia,
were listed in the
1998 World Monuments Watch
1998 World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments
Matera Cathedral (1268–1270) has been dedicated to Santa Maria della
Bruna since 1389. Built in an Apulian Romanesque architectural style,
the church has a 52 m tall bell tower, and next to the main gate
is a statue of the Maria della Bruna, backed by those of Saints Peter
and Paul. The main feature of the façade is the rose window, divided
by sixteen small columns. The interior is on the
Latin cross plan,
with a nave and two aisles. The decoration is mainly from the 18th
century Baroque restoration, but recently[when?] a Byzantine-style
14th-century fresco portraying the
Last Judgment has been discovered.
Two other important churches in Matera, both dedicated to the Apostle
Peter, are San Pietro Caveoso (in the Sasso Caveoso) and San Pietro
Barisano (in the Sasso Barisano). San Pietro Barisano was recently
restored in a project by the World Monuments Fund, funded by American
Express. The main altar and the interior frescoes were cleaned, and
missing pieces of moldings, reliefs, and other adornments were
reconstructed from photographic archives or surrounding fragments.
There are many other churches and monasteries dating back throughout
the history of the Christian church. Some are simple caves with a
single altar and maybe a fresco, often located on the opposite side of
the ravine. Some are complex cave networks with large underground
chambers, thought to have been used for meditation by the rupestric
and cenobitic monks.
Cisterns and water collection
Matera was built above a deep ravine called Gravina of
divides the territory into two areas.
Matera was built such that it is
hidden, but made it difficult to provide a water supply to its
inhabitants. Early dwellers invested tremendous energy in building
cisterns and systems of water channels.
The largest cistern has been found under Piazza Vittorio Veneto. With
its solid pillars carved from the rock and a vault height of more than
fifteen meters, it is a veritable water cathedral, which is navigable
by boat. Like other cisterns in the town, it collected rainwater that
was filtered and flowed in a controlled way to the Sassi.
There was also a large number of little superficial canals (rasole)
that fed pools and hanging gardens. Moreover, many bell-shaped
cisterns in dug houses were filled up by seepage. Later, when
population increased, many of these cisterns were turned into houses
and other kind of water-harvesting systems were realized.
Some of these more recent facilities have the shape of houses
submerged in the earth.
The Tramontano Castle
The Tramontano Castle, begun in the early 16th century by Gian Carlo
Tramontano, Count of Matera, is probably the only other structure that
is above ground of any great significance outside of the sassi.
However, the construction remained unfinished after his assassination
in the popular riot of 29 December 1514. It has three large towers,
while twelve were probably included in the original design. During
some restoration work in the main square of the town, workers came
across what was believed to be the main footings of another castle
tower. However, on further excavation large Roman cisterns were
unearthed. Whole house structures were discovered where one can see
how the people of that era lived.
Because of the ancient primeval-looking scenery in and around the
Sassi, it has been used by filmmakers as the setting for ancient
Jerusalem. The following famous biblical period motion pictures were
filmed in Matera:
Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964).
Bruce Beresford's King David (1985).
The Passion of the Christ
The Passion of the Christ (2004).
Abel Ferrara's Mary (2005).
The Nativity Story
The Nativity Story (2006).
Cyrus Nowrasteh's The Young Messiah (2016)
Timur Bekmambetov's Ben-Hur (2016)
Garth Davis's Mary Magdalene (2018)
Other movies filmed in the city include:
Le due sorelle (1950)
Alberto Lattuada's La lupa (1953)
Roberto Rossellini's Garibaldi (1961)
Roaring Years (1962)
Il demonio (1963)
Nanni Loy's Made in
More Than a Miracle
More Than a Miracle (1967)
Don't Torture a Duckling
Don't Torture a Duckling (1972)
Anno uno (1974)
Paolo and Vittorio Taviani's
Fernando Arrabal's The Tree of Guernica (1975)
Carlo Di Palma's
Qui comincia l'avventura
Qui comincia l'avventura (1975)
Francesco Rosi's Christ Stopped at Eboli (1979)
Francesco Rosi's Three Brothers (1981)
Paolo and Vittorio Taviani's
The Sun Also Shines at Night
The Sun Also Shines at Night (1990)
Giuseppe Tornatore's The Star Maker (1995)
John Moore's The Omen (2006)
Liu Jiang's Let's Get Married (2015)
Patty Jenkins's Wonder Woman (2017)
Matera appears in the music videos for the songs Sun Goes Down (2014)
by Robin Schulz and
Spit Out the Bone
Spit Out the Bone (2016) by Metallica.
European Capital of Culture
On 17 October 2014,
Matera was declared European Capital of Culture
for 2019, together with Bulgaria's second-largest city, Plovdiv.
Luigi De Canio, football manager
Egidio Romualdo Duni, composer
Emanuele Gaudiano, show jumping rider
Cosimo Fusco, actor
Giovanni di Matera,
Benedictine monk and saint
Francesco Mancini, footballer
Gianvito Plasmati, footballer
Francesco Carmelo Salerno, politician
Franco Selvaggi, footballer
Giovanni Carlo Tramontano, nobleman
Matera is the terminal station of the Bari-Matera, a narrow gauge
railroad managed by Ferrovie Appulo Lucane. The trip from Bari takes
about one hour and thirty minutes The nearest airport is Bari airport
and can be reached directly by train with a connection in Bari.
Matera is connected to the A14 Bologna-Taranto motorway through the
SS99 national road. It is also served by the SS407, SS665 and SS106
Bus connection to Italy's main cities is provided by private firms.
Football Club Matera
Olimpia Matera, a basketball team
Toms River, New Jersey,
United States of America
Church of San Agostino.
Church of San Giovanni Battista.
San Pietro Caveoso.
Matera Centrale railway station
Giovanni Carlo Tramontano, Count of Matera
Church of San Leonardo (Matera)
^ Population data from Istat
^ Leonardo A. Chisena,
Matera dalla civita al piano: stratificazione,
classi sociali e costume politico, Congedo, 1984, p.7
Matera European Culture Capital 2019". gazzettadelsud.it. 17
October 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
^ Colin Amery and Brian Curran, Vanishing Histories, Harry N. Abrams,
New York, NY: 2001, p. 44.
World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund - Rupestrian Churches of Puglia and the City of
^ Museo Laboratorio della Civiltà Contadina ONLUS (2014) [1st. Pub.
2007]. Water-harvesting systems of Matera, from Neolithic to the first
half of XX century. Matera. ISBN 1500611565.
^ Lilja Haefele (6 October 2014). "
Robin Schulz "Sun Goes Down"
(Lilja, dir.)". videostatic.com. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
Matera nel nuovo video dei Metallica". retecinemabasilicata.it. 18
November 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
Giura Longo, Raffaele (1970). Sassi e secoli. Matera: BMG.
Find more aboutMateraat's sister projects
Media from Wikimedia Commons
Quotations from Wikiquote
Texts from Wikisource
Travel guide from Wikivoyage
Travel Video promotion APT
Basilicata (in English)
Sassi di Matera
Sassi di Matera and Rupestral Churches (in English)
Video Festa della Bruna (in English)
Complete photo gallery of the Unesco photographer who published at the
Matera - The Festivity of the Madonna della Bruna
Museo Laboratorio della Civiltà Contadina
BBC News: Italian cave city goes hi-tech
The rock-hewn churches map of Matera
360 HD Official Virtual Tour of Matera
Roba Forestiera, documentary film, 2004, about the Sassi di Matera,
premiered at Lucania Film Festival
Basilicata · Comuni of the Province of Matera
San Giorgio Lucano
San Mauro Forte
World Heritage Sites in Italy
Mantua and Sabbioneta
Monte San Giorgio1
Porto Venere, Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, Cinque Terre
Monterosso al Mare
Residences of the Royal House of Savoy
Castle of Moncalieri
Castle of Racconigi
Castle of Rivoli
Castello del Valentino
Royal Palace of Turin
Palazzo Madama, Turin
Palace of Venaria
Palazzina di caccia of Stupinigi
Villa della Regina
Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes1
Rock Drawings in Valcamonica
Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy
Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan
Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-
Roero and Monferrato
Torre della Ghirlandina
Torre della Ghirlandina and Piazza Grande, Modena
Orto botanico di Padova
City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto
Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi
Etruscan Necropolises of
Cerveteri and Tarquinia
Piazza del Duomo, Pisa
Castel del Monte, Apulia
Vallo di Diano
Vallo di Diano National Park,
Paestum and Velia, Certosa
Oplontis and Villa Poppaea
Palace of Caserta,
Aqueduct of Vanvitelli
Aqueduct of Vanvitelli and
San Leucio Complex
Sassi di Matera
Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale
Archaeological Area of Agrigento
Syracuse and Necropolis of Pantalica
Val di Noto
Militello in Val di Catania
Villa Romana del Casale
Longobards in Italy, Places of Power (568–774 A.D.)
Cividale del Friuli
Temple of Clitumnus
Temple of Clitumnus located at Campello sul Clitunno
Santa Sofia located at Benevento
Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo
Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo located at Monte Sant'Angelo
Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps3
Primeval Beech Forests of Europe4
Venetian Works of Defence between 15th and 17th centuries5
Peschiera del Garda
1 Shared with Switzerland
2 Shared with the Holy See
3 Shared with Austria, France, Germany, Slovenia, and Switzerland
4 Shared with Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany,
Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia,
Spain and Ukraine
5 Shared with
Croatia and Montenegro
European Capitals of Culture
Santiago de Compostela
Luxembourg City and Greater Region