Matera is the European capital of culture 2019. The event takes place in the historic quarter of the city called Sassi that is caves built in the rock of the mountain and inhabited until the mid-twentieth century, when due to poor hygienic conditions it was announced to citizens to abandon these shelters in favor of more comfortable homes. Today the Sassi of Matera is an open-air museum, known throughout the world, where it is possible to learn about the history of human civilization, and not just the Matera one.
In the Sassi it is possible to visit many rock churches, that is structures built in the rock, and it is estimated that there are over one hundred of them located throughout the territory. Some have been recovered and made available to tourists, others have been violated by man and turned into homes, others are still closed pending restoration and reclamation. Among the most famous rupestrian churches there is the Church of Santa Maria di Idris, accessible only for a fee, and is clearly visible from all over the city as it is located on a hill of limestone, accessible only after a long flight of steep steps. A cross placed on the highest part of the rock is a Christian reminder visible from any point of the Sassi.
In the Rock Churches of San Nicola dei Greci and Madonna delle Virtù there is the exhibition of the artist Salvador Dalí, author of many works of art and belonging to the current of surrealism and modern art, and it reached its maximum artistic expression in the second half of the twentieth century. Some of his most famous works have been installed in the city of Matera, which can be visited for free, while the ticket for the exhibition inside the churches costs 12 euros.
The Duomo of Matera, called Cathedral of the Madonna della Bruna and of Sant'Eustachio is located in the highest part of the city and to reach it requires many stairs, but the effort is generously rewarded by the artistic beauty. Built in the XIII century, it has an imposing external structure, in Romanesque style and a bell tower that dominates the city with its height of over 50 meters. The interior of the Cathedral has undergone several changes over the centuries and has been continuously redesigned to become baroque, with gilded ornaments that appear at all points, from the walls to the arches.
The most fascinating part of the city for me is the less touristy one, namely the Rione Casalnuovo, where you can visit the bare caves, without any decoration or indication, and for example show us the tanks in which the grapes for the wine or the stable of the animals, the stone beds in which the inhabitants rested in absolute silence. It is possible to constantly admire an exceptional naturalistic landscape exactly on the other side of the city, where the entrances to the caves are clearly visible and the noise of the Gravina Torrent that crosses the mountains can be heard.
Matera in the evening is indescribable: the lights and the atmosphere transform the city into a living crib, with views and panoramic views full of many emotions that relax the eyes and the heart. I leave you some nocturnal images that do not need further comments.
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