Matera has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993 and was elected European Capital of Culture for 2019, the city of Sassi, carved into the rock and built with limestone from its ancient quarries, is among the oldest cities in the world.
Its remote origins are also testified to by the Paleolithic relics found, as well as the Neolithic settlements present in the Murgia Park of Matera, just beyond the canyon that divides the territory.
The two ancient districts, the Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano, are characterized by the presence of the sophisticated rain-water collection systems (within small and larger cisterns) throughout the districts, and constitute one of the best preserved examples of existing bio-architecture in the world.
The heritage of religious architecture is also worth noting, in particular the rupestrian complexes, with about 150 churches carved into the rock, many of which are frescoed and restored. Among these: The Convicinio di Sant'Antonio, the complex of Madonna delle Virtù and San Nicola dei Greci, the Madonna dell’Idris and the extraordinary Crypt of Original Sin.
A walk (with comfortable shoes) through the alleyways and squares of the Sassi neighborhoods and the city center with its baroque churches, The Domenico Ridola National Museum of Archeology and Palazzo Lanfranchi, home to he Museum of Medieval and Modern Art of Basilicata
The Sassi districts have captivated some of the world’s greatest international filmmakers due to their beautiful, suggestive landscapes, lighting and architecture. Matera has been a film location since the 1950s, seen as the Jerusalem of Southern Italy by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Mel Gibson, Catherine Hardwick and many other directors who have set biblical films there. The Sassi have also been chosen as the setting for other non-biblical major Hollywood productions, again, for their uniquely spectacular scenery. Among the latest films to be shot here are: Wonder Woman and No time to die, last James Bond's adventure.
A guided tour is recommended, in order to learn about the town’s more contemporary history. To discover in this way the history and the important urban evolution obtained thanks to the contributions of Luigi Piccinato, Ludovico Quaroni, Adriano Olivetti, Carlo Aymonino and Giancarlo De Carlojust some of the architects and urban planners who contributed to giving a new face to the city of the Sassi by most avant-garde urban planning experiments of the 50-60s
To book a guided tour, contact the reception area at the Masseria.