The great number of Rupestral Churches in Matera and its surroundings is one of the most significant and spectacular features of the rupestral settlements in the area.
About one hundred and fifty worship sites from the early Middle Ages to the 19th century, deeply linked to all the historical, social, and religious stages of the territory. The most recent opinions of the critics, based on studies carried out on the sources, as well as on archeological and architectural data, talk about a very complex panorama released from an exclusively monastic and Byzantine context to which the phenomenon had been circumscribed by the first research activities dating back to the late 19th century.
Matera, known as a very ancient "troglodyte town", has not always had the present features. As a matter of fact, its particular urban phenomenon represents the final result of a settlement process which took place during the centuries thanks to concomitant geographical, geological, economic, and political factors: a particular urbanization generated by the great poverty in means, but supported by a strong will of settlement.Further information
Montescaglioso is a historical town center rich in monuments and of
great environmental interest. The evidences of the settlement date back
to the 8th century BC; it was one of the most important centers of what
will become the Magna Graecia of Lucania. The first medieval evidence
dates back to the year 893, when Montescaglioso was a fortified center
where the Benedictine monks settled. The wonderful Benedictine Abbey of
S. Michele Arcangelo dates back to the 11th century: it will play an
essential role in the social and economic events of the town until the
Montescaglioso is today a town with a butterfly-shaped plant, based on the central square (near the castle) which is the lay knot of the urban development, and on two monastic centers.
Situated in front of the Parco delle Chiese Rupestri, the ancient quarters "Sassi" of Matera have been decleared in 1996 World Heritage by the UNESCO. The Sassi are made of 2 quarters: Caveoso and Barisano.
Domenico Ridola National Museum was established on 9th February
1911, with the donation to the State of the collection of
archaeological finds gathered by Senator Ridola, during his long
For the exhibition of the Ridola collection, the Town gave to the State the 17th century former convent of the Clarisse, which became the first nucleus of the Museum. The materials were described by captions wrote by Ridola himself, placed in chronological order from the Paleolithic period to the Bronze Age, and displayed in wooden cases without lights. The Museum was enriched with new halls at the half of the 1950s and was further developed in 1976, when a new display was inaugurated with the materials found during the many years of research in the surroundings of Matera. The needs of restoration and documentation of the great heritage of the Ridola Museum made necessary the building of a new wing which was realized thanks to the Project FIO'85 "Matera-Cultura": in the new wing there are two exhibition halls, the labs, and the stores. Currently the Museum consists of seven exhibition halls, for a total of 2,400 square meters.
Carlo Levi Center is situated in Palazzo Lanfranchi, in Piazzetta Pascoli.
It is possible to visit the painting collection of the period in which the doctor, writer, and painter from Piedmont spent his exile here. In 1954, Carlo Levi publishes his memories about the exile in Lucania: "Cristo si è fermato a Eboli" ("Christ stopped at Eboli") which, thanks to the great success, highlights once again the problems of the Southern part of Italy.
Carlo Levi was born in Turin on 29th November 1902 and here spends his youth until the degree in medicine when he is 21. As a painter, he displays his works at the Biennale di Venezia and in the group of Rivoluzione Liberale. After inspiring the first antifascist clandestine organizations, he is condemned in 1935 to a three-year exile in Grassano, Basilicata. The place is not considered safe enough, and he is transferred to Aliano, a small center without means of communication. In 1939 he goes to France, he comes back to Italy in 1941 and he is arrested again. He publishes in 1945 "Cristo si è Fermato a Eboli", written between Christmas 1943 and July 1944, a novel with an extraordinary success, which has been translated into 37 languages. Carlo Levi died in Roma on 4th January 1975 and he is buried in Aliano (MT), exactly as he wished.