MATERA & THE SASSI
Matera is a unique and fascinating town steeped in history. Thought to be one of the world’s oldest towns dating back as far as the Palaeolithic times, Matera is now a popular tourist spot boasting hundreds of ancient caves, rock churches, delicious local cuisine and luxurious boutique hotels.
The most famous part of Matera is the Sassi district, now designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and the 2019 European Capital of Culture . Here you can see hundreds of troglodyte dwellings and churches dug out of the rock. Explore. The cave dwellings were lived in until the 1950’s and are the most extensive example of their kind in the Mediterranean.
The Civita district, which is the oldest and highest group of buildings, dominates and divides the two Sassi areas, Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso. The Sassi district is now undergoing stylish renovations; including the elegant 5* Palazzo Gattini Hotel situated on the spur which divides the two areas. In the newer area, the Cathedral dominates Matera from high up and has been the main social and religious reference point of the Sassi and the entire town for many years. It is worth visiting the Cathedral, and the stunning 13th Century Byzantine fresco.
Over the past 10 years the Sassi has undergone extensive re-development and now hosts some incredible and luxurious cave hotels, private homes and restaurants, lovingly restored to enhance their original features. Explore this complex network of caves, churches, streets, stairways, archways and terraces on foot to experience the best of this atmospheric city and don’t forget to check out the stunning Cave Hotels for a unique way to discover Basilicata.
Matera is also known for being a film location with films such as Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004) making use of its distinctive feel which is reminiscent of Biblical times.