(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 province of 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), Matera
is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, having been inhabited since the 10th millennium BC.[2] Its historical center "Sassi", along with the Park of the Rupestrian Churches, is considered a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
since 1993. On 17 October 2014, Matera
was declared Italian host of European Capital of Culture for 2019 with the Bulgarian town of Plovdiv.[3]


1 History 2 Main sights

2.1 The Sassi (ancient town) 2.2 Monasteries and churches 2.3 Cisterns and water collection 2.4 Other sights

3 Culture

3.1 Cinema 3.2 Music

4 European Capital of Culture 5 Notable people 6 Transportation 7 Sports 8 Twin towns 9 Gallery 10 See also 11 References 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 Lombards
and 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 century 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
Joseph Bonaparte
reassigned it to Potenza. 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. Main sights[edit] The Sassi (ancient town)[edit] 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[edit] 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.[4] 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 Fund. Matera Cathedral
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
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
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.[5] 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[edit] Matera
was built above a deep ravine called Gravina of Matera
that 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.[6] Other sights[edit]

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. Culture[edit] Cinema[edit] 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). Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ
The Passion of the Christ
(2004). Abel Ferrara's Mary (2005). Catherine Hardwicke's 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:

Mario Volpe's Le due sorelle (1950) Alberto Lattuada's La lupa (1953) Roberto Rossellini's Garibaldi (1961) Luigi Zampa's Roaring Years
Roaring Years
(1962) Brunello Rondi's Il demonio
Il demonio
(1963) Nanni Loy's Made in Italy
(1965) Francesco Rosi's More Than a Miracle
More Than a Miracle
(1967) Lucio Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling
Don't Torture a Duckling
(1972) Roberto Rossellini's Anno uno
Anno uno
(1974) Paolo and Vittorio Taviani's Allonsanfàn
(1974) 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)

Music[edit] Matera
appears in the music videos for the songs Sun Goes Down (2014) by Robin Schulz[7] and Spit Out the Bone
Spit Out the Bone
(2016) by Metallica.[8] European Capital of Culture[edit] On 17 October 2014, Matera
was declared European Capital of Culture for 2019, together with Bulgaria's second-largest city, Plovdiv. Notable people[edit]

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

Transportation[edit] 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 national road. Bus connection to Italy's main cities is provided by private firms. Sports[edit]

Football Club Matera Olimpia Matera, a basketball team

Twin towns[edit]

Vigevano, Italy Cartagena, Colombia Petra, Jordan Toms River, New Jersey, United States
United States
of America Oulunsalo, Finland


Church of San Agostino.


Church of San Giovanni Battista.

San Pietro Caveoso.

See also[edit]

Centrale railway station Giovanni Carlo Tramontano, Count of Matera Falco naumanni Craco 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". 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 Matera ^ 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
Robin Schulz
"Sun Goes Down" (Lilja, dir.)". Retrieved 11 November 2016.  ^ " Matera
nel nuovo video dei Metallica". 18 November 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 

Other sources[edit]

Giura Longo, Raffaele (1970). Sassi e secoli. Matera: BMG. 

External links[edit]

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) Video Sassi di Matera
Sassi di Matera
and Rupestral Churches (in English) Video Festa della Bruna (in English) UNESCO
site Complete photo gallery of the Unesco photographer who published at the previous link 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

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· Comuni of the Province of 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

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World Heritage Sites in Italy


Crespi d'Adda Genoa Mantua
and Sabbioneta Monte San Giorgio1 Porto
Venere, Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, Cinque Terre

Corniglia Manarola Monterosso al Mare Riomaggiore Vernazza

Residences of the Royal House of Savoy

Castle of Moncalieri Castle of Racconigi Castle of Rivoli Castello del Valentino Royal Palace of Turin Palazzo Carignano Palazzo Madama, Turin Palace of Venaria Palazzina di caccia of Stupinigi Villa della Regina

Rhaetian Railway
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


Aquileia The Dolomites Ferrara Modena Cathedral, Torre della Ghirlandina
Torre della Ghirlandina
and Piazza Grande, Modena Orto botanico di Padova Ravenna Venice Verona City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto


Assisi Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi Etruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri
and Tarquinia Florence Hadrian's Villa Medici villas Piazza del Duomo, Pisa Pienza Rome2 San Gimignano Siena Urbino Val d'Orcia Villa d'Este


Alberobello Amalfi Coast Castel del Monte, Apulia Cilento
and Vallo di Diano
Vallo di Diano
National Park, Paestum
and Velia, Certosa di Padula Herculaneum Oplontis
and Villa Poppaea Naples Palace of Caserta, Aqueduct of Vanvitelli
Aqueduct of Vanvitelli
and San Leucio
San Leucio
Complex Pompeii Sassi di Matera


Aeolian Islands Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale Archaeological Area of Agrigento Barumini nuraghes Mount Etna Syracuse and Necropolis of Pantalica Val di Noto

Caltagirone Catania Militello in Val di Catania Modica Noto Palazzolo Acreide Ragusa Scicli

Villa Romana del Casale


Longobards in Italy, Places of Power (568–774 A.D.)

Brescia Cividale del Friuli Castelseprio Spoleto 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

Bergamo Palmanova 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

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European Capitals of Culture

1985 Athens 1986 Florence 1987 Amsterdam 1988 West Berlin 1989 Paris 1990 Glasgow 1991 Dublin 1992 Madrid 1993 Antwerp 1994 Lisbon 1995 Luxembourg City 1996 Copenhagen 1997 Thessaloniki 1998 Stockholm 1999 Weimar 2000 Reykjavík Bergen Helsinki Brussels Prague Kraków Santiago de Compostela Avignon Bologna 2001 Rotterdam Porto 2002 Bruges Salamanca 2003 Graz Plovdiv 2004 Genoa Lille 2005 Cork 2006 Patras 2007 Luxembourg City
Luxembourg City
and Greater Region Sibiu 2008 Liverpool Stavanger 2009 Linz Vilnius 2010 Ruhr Istanbul Pécs 2011 Turku Tallinn 2012 Maribor Guimarães 2013 Košice Marseille 2014 Umeå Riga 2015 Mons Plzeň 2016 San Sebastián Wrocław 2017 Aarhus Paphos 2018 Valletta Leeuwarden 2019 Plovdiv Matera 2020 Rijeka Galway 2021 Timișoara Elefsina Novi Sad 2022 Kaunas Esch-sur-Alzette

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 133160208 GN