The Sassi di Matera are a unique place with an extraordinary charm that testify the man's ability to adapt perfectly to the environment and natural context, skilfully using simple characteristics such as the constant temperature of the excavated environments, the calcarenite of the rocky bank and the exploitation of the slopes. The urban core of the Sassi is characterized by a rock landscape developed on 32 hectares, which also includes the surrounding area, largely protected by the Natural Historical Archaeological Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Materano.
The original site has developed since natural caves carved into the rock, subsequently modeled in increasingly complex structures within two large natural amphitheaters: the Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano. Here are some tips to better visit the Sassi of Matera.
- Where they are and how to get there
- Hours and prices
- Tours, guided tours and tickets online
- What to see and how to visit the Sassi of Matera
- Useful tips for visiting the attraction
- Historical notes, curiosities and practical info: what to know in brief
- User questions and comments
Where they are and how to get there
The Sassi refer to the old part of the city of Matera.
There are divided into three areas: the Sasso Barisano to the north-west, the Sasso Caveoso to the south and the Civita which divides them in the center. The latter is the oldest part, the one that was first chosen by man to be modeled and inhabited. It extends up to Piazza Duomo, incorporating the perimeter once delimited by the city walls.
The name of the Sasso "Barisano" indicates the part that extends towards Bari, while the "Caveoso" takes its name from the high presence of cave houses in this area.
- On foot: take one of the alleys that start from the historic center, specifically: Via Lucana, Via Ridola, Piazza del Sedile, Piazza Duomo, Via delle Beccherie, Piazza Vittorio Veneto, Via San Biagio, Via San Rocco Via Santa Cesarea, Piazza San Francesco d 'Assisi, Via del Corso and Piazzetta Pascoli - Get directions
- By bus: managed by the Miccolis company. The shuttle leaves from the car park in via Saragat where it is possible to leave the car and descends into the Sassi from the entrance in via Daddozio (8:00 - 24:00, every 15 minutes € 0,80).
Hours and prices
Since the Sassi are two districts of the historic center of Matera, they can be visited for free at any time of day.
However, the best way to enjoy the place is to join a guided walking tour accompanied by an expert guide, who will be able to explain in detail the magnificence of the excavations. Tours have an average duration of 2 hours and prices range from € 20,00 to € 40,00.
Tours, guided tours and tickets online
What to see and how to visit the Sassi of Matera
The Sassi di Matera offer the visitor a great deal cultural landscape.
They can be visited on foot in a continuous ups and downs between stairs and narrow alleys.
Architecturally they present an incredible array of elements that have stratified over time. Houses dug by man, rock churches, burial areas, alternate continuously with buildings from all historical periods. Caves, hypogea, churches, stairways, balconies, vegetable gardens and gardens are set one inside the other to form a unique and magical place, so special that it has no equal in the world.
Along the main axis that connects the two districts (via Bruno Buozzi, via Madonna delle Virtù and via D'Addozio), it is possible to admire the landscape of the opposite side, that of Murgia Materana, equally impressive.
Very interesting is the tour of the churches, where you can visit the Rock churches, concrete testimony of the evolutionary passage of man from Prehistory to Christianity.
Do not miss the Cave house, a house-museum that offers visitors an idea of how the family life in the houses of the Sassi. We recommend the Matera City Card to access the most interesting sites in the city.
Useful tips for visiting the attraction
- Get up early: the ideal would be to reach the site early in the morning when there is not yet the maximum number of visitors.
- ZTL: it is not possible to enter with motor vehicles at certain times. Those staying in the accommodation facilities inside the Sassi must ask the municipal police for the appropriate permit through the host structure.
- Bus: transfer service to and from the historic center and the old part. Active service active every day, from 8:00 to 24:00, every 15 minutes
- Minimum time: the ideal would be to be able to dedicate at least half a day to visit the Sassi.
- Meals: a certainly suggestive and particular experience is to have lunch or dinner in one of the many restaurants carved into the tuff rocks.
- Guided tour: taking part in a visit with an authorized tour guide will allow you to discover in greater depth the true essence of the place.
Historical notes, curiosities and practical info: what to know in brief
Originally the Sassi di Matera were a rock environment in continuity with the one on the opposite side of the canyon carved by the Gravina. The first human settlements date back to the Palaeolithic and developed into caves; over time this landscape has been increasingly modified by man who dug and shaped the mother rock, finding in the tuff (the friable layer of calcarenite) an exceptional possibility of settlement sheltered from atmospheric agents. With the advent of Christianity, here is the construction of rock churches.
The Sassi are connected with the current city center, which is located on the plain, through numerous accesses. To access the Sassi, just take one of the numerous streets or alleys that descend from the city center towards the ancient districts.
This is the location of many cinematographic films. We remember The Passion of Christ with Mel Gibson, The Gospel according to Matthew by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Christ stopped at Eboli by Francesco Rosi and Ben-Hur.
To make sure you don't miss something, here is one macrosubdivision of the various districts and, for each one, the main attractions:
- Sasso Barisano: accessed from Piazza Vittorio Veneto and Via D'Addozio. To see: Church of Sant'Agostino, Crypt of San Giuliano and Church of San Pietro Barisano. In Via Fiorentini there are the miniature Sassi made by the craftsman Eustachio Rizzi. Also interesting are the Laboratory Museum of Peasant Civilization and the underground cisterns of San Giorgio near the hotel of the same name.
- Civita Nord: from Piazza Pistola you can admire rocky landscapes; towards the Barisano there are the Church of Madonna delle Virtù, that of San Nicola dei Greci and the House of Ortega with the artist's works.
- Civita Sud: it is accessed from Via Muro, made famous by the film The Passion of Christ. To visit the Casa Cisterna, a typical house of the time and the Casa Grotta, an emblematic underground environment. Nearby, the Church of the Old Purgatory.
- Sasso Caveoso: it can be reached via the only driveway. It is the ideal area to admire the Murgia Park on the opposite side. Here are the famous Church of Madonna de Idris and most of the typical houses carved into the rock.
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