Matera (Basilicata): what to see in the city of the Sassi

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What to see in Matera, one-day itinerary including the main monuments and places of interest, including the panoramic road of the Sassi and the two districts, Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso.


Tourist information

Matera is famous for the so-called Sassi, or the ancient part of the city that develops perched above the sides of the Gravina, a deep valley embedded in the limestone rocks carved by the waterways.

The two districts, Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso, divided in the center by the Civita hill, constitute a housing system with ancient origins and are inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


The Sasso Barisano, located on the edge of the cliff, is located in the heart of the old city, the Sasso Caveoso, facing south, is characterized by cave houses that descend in steps.

The Civita is a rocky outcrop that separates the two Sassi, on top of which the Cathedral and noble palaces are located.

The houses are partially or entirely dug out of the tuff, some have a masonry facade and the paths that lead to the higher houses are the roofs of those below, forming a set of winding and steep narrow streets converging around small squares called neighborhoods.


The roof of many houses corresponds to the terrace of the upper house, thus creating a particular interlocking game.

In this context, churches and palaces are inserted whose architectural decorations are carved directly into the rock.

What see

The cathedral of Matera, dating back to the thirteenth century, has an interior with three naves where various works are preserved, including the fresco of the Last Judgment, attributed to Rinaldo da Taranto, the Madonna delle Grazie between Saints Ilario and Giovanni, attributed to Domizio Persio, the wooden choir, carved by Giovanni Tarantino.


Other churches that deserve to be visited are the church of San Domenico, the church of San Francesco and the church of San giovanni Battista.

The National Archaeological Museum collects archaeological finds from the excavations of Tirlecchia, Trasano and Timmari, as well as a collection of decorated pottery and pottery dating back to the Bronze and Iron Age.

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At the base of the city, in various points overlooking the Gravina cliff, the panoramic road of the Sassi that offers very suggestive views over the two valleys of the Sasso Barisano and the Sasso Caveoso, separated by the rocky outcrop of the Civita, on which stands the Apulian Romanesque cathedral of the thirteenth century, reachable through the picturesque via Duomo.

Going down in the Caveoso district you come to a square overlooked by the Church of San Pietro Caveoso, dominated by a large cliff, with the small church carved into the rock dedicated to Santa Maria de Idris, reachable through a flight of stairs near the church cave of Santa Lucia alle Malve.

Continuing on the panoramic road and bypassing the Civita spur, you reach the Barisano district, the one most built between the two agglomerations.

From the square of the Church of Sant'Agostino, located against the background of the Gravina, the view of the historic center and the Gravina itself is suggestive.

On the opposite side of the Gravina, the Murgia plateau completes the evocative landscape, where numerous rock churches are preserved.

The modern part of the city is located on the shelf.

10 Things to do in Matera, Italy Travel Guide (November 2021)


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