Matera, matera italy, matera basilicata, tourist information matera, visiting matera, facts about matera, information on matera
Matera, matera italy, matera basilicata, tourist information matera, visiting matera, facts about matera, information on matera
Matera
City of Matera, Basilicata

Matera, matera italy, matera basilicata, tourist information matera, visiting matera, facts about matera, information on matera

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Matera is the captial of the province of Matera in the region of Basilicata, southern Italy, and is famous for its 'Sassi', (stone) cave dwellings, thought to be some of the earliest human settlements in Italy.

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Matera, matera italy, matera basilicata, tourist information matera, visiting matera, facts about matera, information on matera
Matera - Photo: www.understandingitaly.com
History of Matera
Although the original cave dwellings date back to prehistoric times, the town of Matheola was established by the Romans in the 3rd century BC since when it has enjoyed a varied and colourful history. AD 600
Matera was conquered by the Lombards and became part of the Duchy of Benevento.

AD 700 - 800
The caves were used as monastries by Benedictine and Greek-Orthodox monks.

AD 900 - 1000
Matera was caught up in the struggle between Saracens, Byzantines and the Germans which lead to the destruction of the city.

AD 1000
Matera came under Norman rule.

AD 1500
Having endured a series of earthquakes and plagues, Matera was occupied by the Aragonese and was gifted to the Tramontano family.

AD 1514
The population of Matera rebelled and killed Count Giovanni Carlo Tramontano.

AD 1700
Matera was handed over to the Orsini and then became part of the Terre d'Otranto di Puglia.

AD 1806
Matera ceased to be the capital of Basilicata as Potenza was appointed in its stead by Joseph Bonaparte, the king of Naples and elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte.

AD 1927
Matera was made capital of the Matera province.

AD 1943
Matera became the first city in Italy to rise up against the German occupiers.

The 'Sassi' caves
The ancient town of Matera was built on the side of a ravine called 'The Gravina' which was created by a river now reduced to a small stream. Many of the famous 'Sassi' dwellings are really only caves dug into the hillside made of the calcareous rock that characterises much of the landscape of Basilicata and Puglia.

Matera, matera italy, matera basilicata, tourist information matera, visiting matera, facts about matera, information on matera
View of The Gravina from Matera
Photo: www.understandingitaly.com
As the town expanded, new streets were often constructed on the rooftops of other houses and it is this 'layering' of the 'Sassi' houses that has created the extraordinary images for which Matera has become famous.

Unesco called Matera "The most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region." and made it a World Heritage Site in 1993.

Matera, matera italy, matera basilicata, tourist information matera, visiting matera, facts about matera, information on matera
Arriving in Matera - Photo: www.understandingitaly.com
Fodor's Guide said of Matera: "Matera is the only place in the world where people can boast to be still living in the same houses of their ancestors of 9,000 years ago". Indeed, many of the inhabitants of Matera did live in unacceptable conditions which were described graphically by the Italian writer Carlo Levi in his book 'Christ Stopped at Eboli'.

After the 2nd World War, the population of Matera grew to around 16,000 and hygenic conditions deteriorated rapidly. Prime Minister, Alcide de Gaspari visited Matera in 1950 and was horrified by what he saw. He was determined to improve living conditions and throughout the 1950s the Italian government forcibly evicted residents, relocating them to better housing in the modern part of the town.
Matera, matera italy, matera basilicata, tourist information matera, visiting matera, facts about matera, information on matera
Inside one of the Sassi Caves
Photo: www.understandingitaly.com
However, many people refused to leave and chose to remain in the caves despite the hardships. Since the 1980's, the local administration in Matera has begun to realise the tourist potential of the caves, and has begun a regeneration programme with help from the European Union, the Italian government, UNESCO, and also from some Hollywood film producers!

The strikingly primitive setting of Matera's 'Sassi' caves has been used as the setting for many biblical films, such as:
Pier Paolo Pasolini's 'The Gospel According to St. Matthew' (1964)
Bruce Beresford's 'King David' (1985)
Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ' (2004)
Catherine Hardwicke's 'The Nativity Story' (2006)

Matera Today
Matera today is a thriving city of over 60,000 inhabitants. The modern part of the town is spacious and pleasantly laid out, housing many bars, restaurants, shops and businesses and the 'Sassi' are extremely popular with tourists from all over the world.

Matera, matera italy, matera basilicata, tourist information matera, visiting matera, facts about matera, information on matera
A more modern street in Matera
Photo: www.understandingitaly.com
Matera has a large selection of churches and monasteries representing virtually the entire history of the Christian church. Some of these are just simple caves with a single altar and fresco and some are more complex cave networks with large underground chambers, thought to have been used for meditation by monastic orders over the years. Other churches worth a visit are: Matera Cathedral, Madonna di Idris, San Pietro Caveoso (in the Sasso Caveoso) and San Pietro Barisano.

Matera, matera italy, matera basilicata, tourist information matera, visiting matera, facts about matera, information on matera
Detail and date on one of the churches
Photo: www.understandingitaly.com
There are also several original 'Sassi' houses open to the public that have been kept in their original state and set up as museums. Other caves have been converted to restaurants and there are even some caves that have been converted to extremely comfortable but very unusual hotels.

Matera
Population: 60,556
Male: 29,446
Female: 31,110
Population density: 156.0 per square km

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Flag of Basilicata
  • Regional Information

    • Area: 9,995 km²
      Population: 600,000
      Density: 59/km²
      Capital: Potenza

      National Parks:
      The Pollino National Park

Location of Basilicata
Provinces of Basilicata
  • Comunes of Basilicata
    • Matera (MT)
      • Accettura
        Aliano
        Bernalda
        Calciano
        Cirigliano
        Colobraro
        Craco
        Ferrandina
        Garaguso
        Gorgoglione
        Grassano
        Grottole
        Irsina
        Matera
        Miglionico
        Montalbano Jonico
        Montescaglioso
        Nova Siri
        Oliveto Lucano
        Pisticci
        Policoro
        Pomarico
        Rotondella
        Salandra
        San Giorgio Lucano
        San Mauro Forte
        Scanzano Jonico
        Stigliano
        Tricarico
        Tursi
        Valsinni

    • Potenza (PZ)
      • Abriola
        Acerenza
        Albano di Lucania
        Anzi
        Armento
        Atella
        Avigliano
        Balvano
        Banzi
        Baragiano
        Barile
        Bella
        Brienza
        Brindisi Montagna
        Calvello
        Calvera
        Campomaggiore
        Cancellara
        Carbone
        Castelgrande
        Castelluccio Inferiore
        Castelluccio Superiore
        Castelmezzano
        Castelsaraceno
        Castronuovo di Sant’Andrea
        Cersosimo
        Chiaromonte
        Corleto Perticara
        Episcopia
        Fardella
        Filiano
        Forenza
        Francavilla in Sinni
        Gallicchio
        Genzano di Lucania
        Ginestra
        Grumento Nova
        Guardia Perticara
        Lagonegro
        Latronico
        Laurenzana
        Lauria
        Lavello
        Maratea
        Marsico Nuovo
        Marsicovetere
        Maschito
        Melfi
        Missanello
        Moliterno
        Montemilone
        Montemurro
        Muro Lucano
        Nemoli
        Noepoli
        Oppido Lucano
        Palazzo San Gervasio
        Paterno
        Pescopagano
        Picerno
        Pietragalla
        Pietrapertosa
        Pignola
        Potenza
        Rapolla
        Rapone
        Rionero in Vulture
        Ripacandida
        Rivello
        Roccanova
        Rotonda
        Ruoti
        Ruvo del Monte
        San Chirico Nuovo
        San Chirico Raparo
        San Costantino Albanese
        San Fele
        San Martino d’Agri
        San Paolo Albanese
        San Severino Lucano
        Sant’Angelo Le Fratte
        Sant’Arcangelo
        Sarconi
        Sasso di Castalda
        Satriano di Lucania
        Savoia di Lucania
        Senise
        Spinoso
        Teana
        Terranova di Pollino
        Tito
        Tolve
        Tramutola
        Trecchina
        Trivigno
        Vaglio Basilicata
        Venosa
        Vietri di Potenza
        Viggianello
        Viggiano
Airports in Basilicata
Hotels in Basilicata
BASILICATAWEATHER
Basilicata Climate (Potenza)
  High Low Sun Rain
Jan 6 1 - 63
Feb 7 1 - 54
Mar 9 2 - 53
Apr 13 5 - 60
May 18 9 - 46
Jun 22 13 - 42
Jul 25 15 - 29
Aug 25 15 - 36
Sep 21 13 - 45
Oct 16 9 - 70
Nov 11 5 - 80
Dec 8 2 - 74
Table Key:
High - Average monthly high temperatures
Low - Average monthly low temperatures
Sun - Average hours of sunshine per day
Rain - Average monthly rainfall in mm
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