Matera , known to most as the city of the Sassi , is an unique place that offer unforgettable emotion. Its beauty has inspired moviemakers as Pasolini (Il Vangelo secondo Matteo) and Mel Gibson (The Passion) that they used as a film set for numerous films.
WHAT ARE “I SASSI”?
I Sassi, declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1993, are the historic center of the city of Matera , with their particular twist of caved used as houses, alley, stone churches, terraces, gardens, tunnel, are a great example of an architectural complex perfectly matching with the natural environment.
I Sassi are divided into two districts, the Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso. The Sasso Barisano, the biggest, is characterized by the presence of shops, restaurants and hotels while the Caveoso is the oldest neighborhood that best preserves the appearance of the cave city.
To appreciate in full their uniqueness let visit I Sassi on foot, lost in the alleys, stairs and panoramic squares from which to enjoy the beautiful landscape.
Time of visit
3 hours for a quick sightseeing of Sassi but we recommended to dedicate the whole day in Matera to visit Museums and the park of cave churches
All the year
the visit of Matera is for all people who love to see a unique place
STARTING POINT: PIAZZA PASCOLI
A visit of Matera could start from Piazza Pascoli, a natural window to enjoy an amazing view of the two Sassi districts, from here you can walk to explore several historically and artistically sites. A tour of Matera has five things to see Matera otherwise you can not leave Matera.
FIRST STOP: CASA NOHA
The ancient house, close to the Cathedral, is an historic house museum where the use of original furnishings allow us to understand how people lived in those environments in the past. A documentary is is projected on the stone walls of the house, telling the story of the city from prehistory to today.
SECOND STOP: PIAZZA SAN PIETRO CAVEOSO
The cave church of St. Peter gave the named to this square. The church stands on a block of stone that gives a fantastic view on the canyons of the Gravina, one of the typical landscapes of the Murgia.
THIRD STOP: Cave CHURCHES Madonna dell’Idris e San Giovanni
Santa Maria de Idris church dug into the side of Monterrone, and St. Giovanni crypt that forms, through an internal passage, a beautiful rupestrian complex.
The rupestrian churches with their architectural virtuosity and their decorations are exceptional works of art, expression of the historical – cultural territory. You can find greek-orthodox churches close to latin churches that testify the cultural and architectural development level reached by the rupestrian community.
There are almost 150 churches in the Matera area for the protection of which it has been established the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera, UNESCO World Heritage Site.
FOURTH STOP: THE CATHEDRAL
On the top of the hill, Civitas hill, there’s the Cathedral which offers an amazing view of the “Sasso Barisano”.
The Cathedral of Madonna della Bruna and Sant'Eustachio, Apulian-Romanesque style, was built in the thirteenth century. The façade of the church has beautiful decorated portal: you can see an impressive rose window with 16 rays (symbol of the wheel of life)
Take time to visit the Church of St. Francesco d’Assisi and the Church of Purgatorio.
FIFTH STOP: CRYPT OF THE ORIGINAL SIN
The Crypt of the Original Sin is 14 kilometers from Matera. It’s a frescoed church cave the town, known as the "Sistine Chapel". The painting show episodes from Genesis , Apostles, Archangels and the Virgin.
The extraordinary painting complex (sec. VIII – IX) that decorates the walls of the crypt is undoubtedly one of the most important examples of early medieval painting in the Mediterranean.
TO SEE BEFORE YOU LEAVE ... MATERA
If you still have time Matera has museums that may be included in the city tour. You can choose from the National Archaeological Museum "Domenico Ridola", the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art and Musma, Museum of contemporary sculpture.