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

Basilicata Details
Holiday Information
Basilicata at your own pace.
Explore Basilicata by bike, savouring life’s simple pleasures.

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Basilicata Information
Location of Basilicata
Area: 9,995 km²
Population: 600,000
Density: 59/km²
Capital: Potenza
Provinces
Comunes
  • Matera
    • 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
    • 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

Basilicata Flag
Basilicata Airports
None
Basilicata National Parks
The Pollino National Park
National Park Val D’Agri Lagonegrese
The Gallipoli Cognato Park
City of Matera, Basilicata
Matera - Photo: www.understandingitaly.com
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.

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

More information here

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Basilicata Information
Location of Basilicata
Area: 9,995 km²
Population: 600,000
Density: 59/km²
Capital: Potenza
Provinces
Comunes
  • Matera
    • 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
    • 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

Basilicata Flag
Basilicata Airports
None
Basilicata National Parks
The Pollino National Park
National Park Val D’Agri Lagonegrese
The Gallipoli Cognato Park
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