If you’re asking yourself what to see in Matera in one day, the answer is: many things! From the town to the Murgia Park: in just one day we tried to see as much as possible, even if it was a bit hard. Here below I’ll show you the main attractions: the ones I liked most and you can’t skip.
We spenti this day in Matera during on the road attraverso la Puglia di cui trovi tutti i dettagli qui.
FORSE TI POTREBBE INTERESSARE ANCHE: MATERA – COME OTTIMIZZARE IL TEMPO, COME ORGANIZZARSI E ALCUNE VARIANTI PER VISITARLA COI BAMBINI
VISIT TO THE TOWN
MATERA: VITTORIO VENETO SQUARE
Just arrived in Matera we immeditely saw the main square: Piazza Vittorio Veneto, point from which all guided tours leave and which hosts in its centre a beautiful fountain; that’s why this square was called “Fountain Square” in the past.
MATERA: PALOMBARO LUNGO AND THE ROCK CHURCH OF SANTO SPIRITO
The most interesting parts of this square are the underground locals brought out into light thanks to the restoration works in 1993, among which we remember the famous “Palombaro Lungo” and the rock church of “Santo Spirito” with other not visitable locals, used in the past for commerce.
The Palombaro Lungo, placed under Vittorio Veneto square, it’s a big tank to conserve water: an incredible system to spare resources and based on a great concept considering the period! Man working tuff, a kind of soft rock, could dig housings and tubes to bring springs and rainwater. This solution permitted, before the great decline, to maintain a certain level of hygiene in the town. The Palombaro Lungo is the biggest tank carved out from man in the whole Europe: it contains 5 millions litres water, it’s 18 mt. high and wide 50. Its use was then abandoned when the population left the tuff housings. The presence of a work whose purpose was to conserve a precious good like water, contributed to insert Matera in the World Heritage of Unesco.
I was impressed by what I saw: the ambiences are very high and the path runs through a long iron ladder. Visits are guided and the requires many; that’s why I suggest you to book immediately the ticket as soon as you arrive. You’ll enter at a certain time with your group; once reache the maximum number, you’ll have to wait for the next turn.
Opening hours: from Monday to Sunday – from 10:00 to 13:30 and from 15.30 to 18:00
Price: 3 Euro per person (prices 2019)
Always under the square you’ll find the rock church of “Santo Spirito”, ancient cult place of which today remain the three naves and consumed frescoes. This is one of the church used as a house during the overcrowding period of the town. While you wait for your turn for Palombaro, it could be nice to go down and have a look!
MATERA: THE VIEWPOINT GUERRICCHIO
The richness of this square doesn’t finish here: from the viewpoint Guerricchio you’ll have the first amazing view over the Sasso Barisano. It’s hard to take photos because of the crowd that wait for that, but fortunately this isn’t the only panoramic point of Matera! The town is rich of such views, even more beautiful, that you’ll see during your walking tour.
MATERA: THE CATHEDRAL
The cathedral, in the roman style from Puglia, was built in the “Civita”, the most ancient part of Matera. Outside the church is quite simple, but as you go into, it’s immediately clear the contrast: unfortunately it hasn’t maintained much of its original aspect, except from the fresco of the Last Judgement, the only element remained of the original medieval painting of the cathedral.
MATERA: THE COMPLEX OF MONTERRONE
This complex has a strong visual impact and it’s represented by the rock outcrop rising in the Sasso Caveoso and it’s composed by two churches quite dug into the rock: the church of “Santa Maria de Idris” and the church of “San Giovanni in Monterrone”. This is the complex we like most and we visit on our own, with the church described here below of Santa Lucia alle Malve.
- Santa Maria de Idris owes its name to the presence of the tanks for the water collection. In the whole church you can see what it remains of the frescoes and counting stones belonging to the original liturgical furnishing.
- Beyond the door on the left of the major altar, you can enter the church of San Giovanni in Monterrone, traditionally considered a parish church. It suffered from several changes through the centuries, but it conserves an interesting sequence of frescoes, some overlaid to more ancient works. It’s forbidden to take photos inside the two churches, like inside the rock church of “Santa Lucia alle Malve”, in the surroundings, but this last one isn’t part of the same complex. Pity beacuse the frecoes are very beautiful, with bright colours; that’s why they probably want to protect them.
- The rock church of Santa Lucia alle Malve, owes its name to the presence of the plant that grows spontaneously in the surroundings. The church was used from a community of Benedict nuns as a cult place attached to the monastery, until they moved to the public fountain.
Opening hours: from 10:00 to 14:00
Cost (2019): 3 Euro
MATERA: LANFRANCHI PALACE
In the surroundings of the churches described above, in Piazzatta Pascoli, there’s this palace that hosts the Medieval and Modern Art Museum of the region Basilicata. Right in front of it, the Drop by Azuma, realized from the famous contemporary Japanese painter and sculptor. It’s the symbol of the human life compared to the cicle of the water that becomes drop wetting the earth, then evaporates and turns again into drop. It has some holes in it, symbol of the empty of the human being and his continue research.
THE CAVE HOUSE
The cave houses are the typical housing of Matera: our visit inside helped us to better understand the costumes and traditions of the inhabitants of the ancient Rioni dei Sassi, before people abandoned them. They’re completely furnished houses with furniture and tools of the past: a fascinating travel into the day life of an extraordinary population!
MATERA: TRAMONTANO CASTLE
It’s on a little hill overlooking the centre town. We expected something different; this is the most disappointing attraction for us: as we didn’t like it so much, we looked it only from outside.
MATERA: WALKING AROUND THE TOWN
During our guided tour with the agency, about which I’ve written here, we listened to our guide telling us the story of Matera and could admire the town from different point of views.
During the guided tour we visited other marvellous rock churches like “Madonna delle Virtù” and “San Nicola dei Greci”, reachable through a panoramic path along the Park of Murgia. Different from other rock churches, to these two you can take photos also inside.
- The church Madonna delle Virtù is completely carved into the rock, with an internal structure composed by three naves: it’s a beautiful example of rural architecture . The most important artistic traces are given by the presence of the frescoes: the most important one represents the Crucifixion with Holy Mary and San Giovanni. Through a narrow flight of stairs you’ll reach the monastery, also carved into the rock: after hosting a community of nuns, it was used to product wine.
- The church of San Nicola dei Greci rises above the church of Madonna delle Virtù, in the Byzantine style with two naves .
Other churches (not rock churches) to see in Matera: Chiesa dei Santi Pietro and Paolo al Sasso Caveoso, Chiesa di San Francesco, Chiesa di Santa Chiara, Chiesa del Purgatorio, Chiesa di San Domenico and the parish church of Giovanni Battista.
VISIT TO THE PARK OF MURGIA MATERANA
This tour was a completion of the previous tour of the town: in my opinion it would be a real pity to skip this part of Matera, because it’s true that you’re going to see other rock churches, the most ancient ones , but it’s the location that leaves you astonished! The park is really enormous, like a place apart, rich of mystery and out from the usual touristic circuits . Some constructions are really peculiar and unique, not to talk about the wonderful view you’ll have over the Sassi!
For this kind tour it’s not recommended to go on your own, also for the most expwrt people, because there aren’t signs to indicate you the path and you can easily get lost. The best solution is to go with an expert guide you can buy in one of the agencies in town. I suggest to wear comfortable shoes because it’s like a light trekking to discover the several rock churches, comftortable clothes and a scarf as the wind is very strong over there.
To understand which agency to choose for the tour and other useful info, leggi qui.
Our day ended on the Murgia Park with one of the most romantic sunset over the town of Matera.
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THE MEANING OF TRAVEL FOR ME
In the last years I follow what Dalai Lama says:” At least once a year go to a place you’ve never been before”.
After years of sufferings and sacrifices, I’ve decided that life is too short and too unpredictable to continue waiting to do what I like and what makes me happy.
I like exploring the world where I live, take photos of it in general but also in its details, film it to hold back those subtle emotions that you could forget over time, and in the end share with you what I’ve seen and felt through my articles.
Travel is for me Love – Freedom – Gratitude
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Davvero utili queste pagine! Grazie. Devo andare martedì e sicuramente ne farò tesoro.
Grazie a te Donatella per la tua opinione. Se l'articolo ti è stato utile, non posso che essere super felice. Buona visita di Matera allora 😉
Grazie Eleonora per il tuo commento e la tua stellina 😀