The town of the “Sassi” – UNESCO World Heritage Site
Tour by bus. Distance: 60 Km
MATERA – The area of what is now Matera has been settled since the Palaeolithic. The city was allegedly founded by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, with the name of Metheola. The international fame of Matera is related to its ancient town, the “Sassi di Matera” (meaning “stones of Matera”). The Sassi originate from a prehistoric (troglodyte) settlement, and are considered to be some of the first human settlements in Italy. The Sassi are houses dug into the tuff rock itself and many of these “houses” are really only caverns, and the streets in some parts of the Sassi often are located on the rooftops of other houses. The ancient town grew in height on one slope of the ravine created by a river that is now a small stream. The Sassi di Matera was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993
Another important monument to visit in Matera is the Cathedral (1268–1270), a church dedicated to Santa Maria della Bruna since 1389.
There are many other churches and monasteries dating back throughout the history of the Christian church. Some are simple caves with a single altar and maybe a fresco, often located on the opposite side of the ravine. Some are complex cave networks with large underground chambers, thought to have been used for meditation by the rupestral and coenobitic monks.