In southern Italy, specifically in the Basilicata regionwe find Matera: a city that has approximately 60,000 inhabitants and that, despite not being as well known as many others found throughout the country, is worth a visit.
We can highlight several things about it, such as the fact that it has a rather peculiar historic center. This is so because the houses were excavated in limestone rock, and the fact is that the city is located at an oblique angle to a canyon that over the years has been eroded by the current.
So this leads us to talk about the Sassi of Matera, which were declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1993. These are cave houses excavated in limestone rock and dating in the vast majority of cases from prehistory. And it is that Matera is one of the oldest cities that can be found in the country. In fact, it is believed that these Sassi were the place where some of the first humans in Italy lived.
Before continuing we must mention that the sassi are divided into three different areas: the Sasso Barisano, the Sasso el Civita located in the middle and the Sasso Caveosoin which the oldest and most dilapidated sassi are found and in which the streets are narrower.
Going back to the sassi, you should know that they are actually caves that are, as we said, dug into the rock. Some of them, in addition, are built on others. I mean, when you walk by Matera you should keep in mind that under your feet may be the roof of another sassi or cave. Caves that in the fifties had to be evacuated because humans and animals lived in them in unsanitary conditions. Thus, the Italian government made those who lived there move to the new area of the town, although in some cases this was not fulfilled.
What was done, some time later, was restore some sassi. In this way, while some today are still ruins, others are in better condition. And it is that the government of Matera has tourism in mind, attracting visitors to the city, and that is why it has moved to find help not only from the government of the country but also from the European Union and even from Hollywood.
In fact, this is another one of the things you should know about Matera: the appearance of the old town of this Italian city is similar to old Jerusalem, so film directors take advantage of this circumstance to shoot their films set in that place and time there. This is the case, for example, of No Time to Die. This film of James Bond is filmed in Materaat least part of its plot.
So it won’t surprise you to know that in 2019 it was named European Capital of Culture. Although the truth is that you should know that Matera has attractions beyond her houses. In fact, this Italian city has many, many churches of many styles that also attract visitors. Although the most outstanding building is, surely, its duomo or cathedral.
So much so that while you walk through the labyrinthine streets of Matera You will find signs that tell you where you can see it. It is up, so to get to it you will have to climb slopes and stairs. But like any place with height it has its reward: the most tiring part is done at the beginning and, in addition, you have good views.
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