Visit Matera – 2019 European Capital of Culture
There are many things to see on a visit to Puglia, however, an absolute must is a trip to the ancient Italian city of Matera, the 2109 European Capital of Culture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dating back to Palaeolithic era, Matera is one of the oldest cities in the world located in the Southern Italian province of Basilicata (see map).
It’s ancient center, also known as Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches “comprises a complex of houses, churches, monasteries and hermitages built into the natural caves of the Murgia”. Matera and its caves received widespread attention during the Fascist rule, when Carlo Levi, a writer exiled to a nearby city by dictator Benito Mussolini, wrote Christ Stopped at Eboli and said “anyone who sees Matera cannot help be but awe-struck, so expressive and touching is its sorrowful beauty”. For over 50 years after World War II, Matera was practically abandoned and known for its dilapidated condition.
Then the Italian government took action and turned the city into a place where people could once again live. Matera remains unique, so much so that the filmmaker Mel Gibson chose it as a set for his movie The Passion of the Christ (shot the scenes of Jerusalem) there in 2004.
It’s no small wonder that Basilicata was featured as #3 in The New York Times of 2018 Places to Visit.
“Matera offers many beautiful places to see from museums to churches to the old water cisterns, built in the rock like the Sassi. These are probably all the reasons why it was announced in 2014 as the European Capital of Culture for the year of 2019″ (Lonely Planet).
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For more information visit:
Top 10 Things to See & Do in Matera – The Culture Trip
Distance from Bari: 60km