The stones and the park of the rock churches of Matera
Basilicata | DESTINATION

The stones and the park of the rock churches of Matera

75100 Matera MT, Italy

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Wander among its Matera Sassi, ancient houses dug out of tufa, let in the 50s by its inhabitants to be recovered and restored. Discover Gravina, or the valley that is home to the country, already inhabited in the late Palaeolithic. In this maze of streets and alleys, recalling to mind the Christian nativity scenes, breathe the air of an area where time seems to stand still and that has inspired filmmakers and writers, Mel Gibson as he chose Matera as the setting for his film "Christ's passion". Combining the charm of the barren rock to the sophistication and elegance of the interior decorations, the Matera Rock Churches are an essential step for anyone visiting the city Lucan, between these: the imposing Church of San Pietro Barisano, the Church of Saint Lucia of the Malve, The cave complex of St. Anthony Convicinio, the churches of Santa Maria de Idris and St. John. “I Sassi di Matera sono registrati nella Lista dei Patrimoni dell’Umanità dell’UNESCO dal 1993.” Rappresentano uno straordinario ecosistema urbano tanto da essere il primo sito iscritto nell’Italia meridionale. Moreover, constitute an exceptional example of careful use of natural resources: water, soil, energy.

UNESCO admission criteria

In the report of the committee that verified that the site to the UNESCO evaluation criteria, it is clear that the candidacy of Matera meets the following criteria: criterion (iii): the Sassi of Matera and the Park of Rock Churches are perfectly adapted an outstanding example of rock settlement to its geo-morphological characteristics and its ecosystem in continuity by more than two millennia; criterion (iv): the Sassi of Matera and the Park of Rock Churches are an outstanding example of architectural and landscape ensemble that illustrates the main stages of human history; criterion (v): the Sassi of Matera and the Park of Rock Churches represent an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement and land use showing the evolution of a culture that has kept, over the centuries, a harmonious relationship with the natural environment.

History, art and culture

symbol of Italian culture Town, strategically located between the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea, away from both 40 to 60 km and the Tyrrhenian Sea about 180 kilometres, Matera has its biggest attraction in the exceptional historical center called "Sassi". Land where history and nature, sacred and profane merge into a harmonious way: that is how the visitor Matera, mysterious place, almost sacred, that brought Pier Paolo Pasolini as the setting for The Gospel According to Matthew, turning it into an unforgettable evangelical place, and Mel Gibson to consecrate international tourist destination. The stones, old districts of Matera, constitute a unique architectural and urban whole, neighborhoods built in the limestone, along the slopes of a deep valley from natural and unique characteristics, Gravina. Today the recovery of the Sassi has given new life to this area, but the impact is still impressive. It is located in front of a rock garden in archaic charm that only one of the oldest cities in the world can exhibit. Matera is explored on foot up and down the stone streets, Rock between houses and churches enhanced by a fabulous night lighting. Once in Matera, we walk to the historical center. Up, on a rocky peak, the heart of the ancient city called "Civita", natural depressions to the two sides with the two Sassi districts, The Barisano and Caveoso. The territory testifies settlements continues from the Palaeolithic, with the various objects found in the caves scattered along the ravines of Matera; passing through the Neolithic settlements then became more stable and, subsequently, with Metal Age, He was born the first urban nucleus, one of the "Civita". It was called by the Greeks ole Mataia, that results from Mataio olos, whose meaning is "all vacuous", with reference to Gravina, fossa crossed by streams; further assumption is that the name derives from Mata (pile of rocks). In the Hellenic Age, the area was under the influence of the Magna Greece populations and 664 d.C. Matera came under the Lombards and was annexed to the Duchy of Benevento. During the seventh and eighth centuries many Benedictine monastic communities and greek-orthodox settled at the caves. The ninth and tenth centuries were, instead, characterized by battles between Saracens and Byzantines who repeatedly attempted to wrest control of the region. After the settlement of the Normans in Sicily, in 1043 Matera was ruled by Count William Iron Arm and in the following centuries, between plagues and earthquakes, Matera also passed through a short communal phase to land in the fifteenth century to the Aragon and, through the latter, to Tramontano accounts. In 1514 But, the population, angry at the injustices and the harassment, rose up, managing to kill the Count Giovanni Carlo Tramontano. In 1633, during the Spanish period, Matera left the Apulian province of Terra d'Otranto, which until then it was an integral part, becoming the capital of Basilicata. This title remained until the 1806, when Joseph Bonaparte transferred skills in Potenza. In 1927 the city became the capital of the province. In 1935 the Matera Province hosted the confinement of the writer, physician and painter Carlo Levi, who, on the basis of what became profound human experience, in 1945 he published the novel Christ Stopped at Eboli. In 1975, his death, Levi was buried by his will to Aliano. The 21 September 1943 Matera the people rose up against the oppression from Nazi occupation, after German soldiers demolished the "militia Palace" with eleven people inside, including Christmas and Francesco Farina, respectively son and father. Ten other people were killed as a result of German machine guns in retreat. Matera was the first Italian city to rise up against the Nazis and therefore awarded the Silver Medal of Military Valor. In 1948 It came the question of Sassi, raised by Palmiro Togliatti before, and Alcide De Gasperi after. The Sassi became the national symbol of backwardness and underdevelopment of southern Italy. In 1952 He came to the allocation of funds for the construction of new residential neighborhoods that developed the new city, which they merged the fifteen thousand people who lived in the cave-houses. Of these new districts, that achieved by INA House, called "The White Thorns",It is a work of great architectural significance belonging to Neorealist current Italian Rationalism the Second World War. Matera currently has over sixty thousand inhabitants. The town is located 401 m s.l.m. and it is only 45 kilometers from the sea. As described above, It consists of parts dating back to various historical periods: the oldest town of joint Sassi from the spur of the "Civita", with the Cathedral; the medieval-Renaissance hand down "the Plan", the edges of the Sassi; the new town with very elegant districts, made by the most famous Italian architects. Matera is in fact very lively city, behind the times, with a culture that thrives on contemporary facts and history. Many are the Matera churches from the thirteenth century to the nineteenth, with a large group in the Baroque style. Saint John, San Domenico and the Cathedral are the oldest. This demonstrates that while there were the laure and caves, parallel unfolded a life already town. Those three churches affected by the Romanesque and Apulian culture.  


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