Matera, Italy Walking Tour [4K | 60fps]

Welcome to Matera! Matera is located along a deep canyon in the region of Basilicata, in Southern Italy. The palace was built between 1735 and 1747 as a monastic complex. Today, it is a movie theater. Under this piazza is the largest underground cistern in Matera, known as the Palombaro Lungo. This enormous cistern is part of a much larger system that extends under all the Sassi districts. The cistern can hold up to 5 million liters of water. This area, known as the Sasso Barisano, is one of two districts in Matera collectively called the Sassi. In 1577, a large fountain was built here which symbolized the presence of the cistern. In 1832, an new fountain was built in its place called the Fontana Ferdinandea. The water would flow down the hill and pass through the fountain before ending up down in the Paombaro Lungo. The fountain was moved here in 2009 but it is currently blocked in the area behind the white van. This area is part of the “new” part of Matera just outside of the Sassi. These steps lead down to an area of the Sassi known as the Sasso Barisano. The word sassi means “cave-dwellings” and derives from the latin word saxum, meaning a hill, rock or great stone. For over 9,000 years, people have lived here carving their houses out of the caves and cliffs. This city district, known as Sasso Barisano, is believed to be named for the fact it faces to the coastal town of Bari. Matera is believed to be the third oldest continually inhabited settlement in the world after Aleppo and Jericho. Matera is also home to 155 rock churches which were built mainly in the middle ages and carved into the rock. Matera the been given the nickname of “The Second Bethlehem” because of its unique landscape. In 2004, Mel Gibson chose to use Matera at the setting for several scenes in his movie, The Passion of the Christ. The Sassi of Matera became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Here at the edge of the ravine is the Convent of Saint’Agostino, built in 1592. In the center niche of the facade of the church is a statue of Sant’Agostino. This church next to the convent was built two years later in 1594. Across the ravine from the city, the hillside is lined with ancient Paleolithic caves. In November 2018, five bronze sculptures were placed around the city as part of a Salvador Dali exhibit. The artwork is on display in a large cave consisting of four themed areas, with one dedicated to “Time.” The crucifixion scene in The Passion of the Christ was filmed on the hillside directly ahead. Several movies have been filmed in Matera with the most recent being the James Bond film, No Time To Die. Matera also served as the setting for ‘Themyscira’ in 2017’s Wonder Woman. On the opposite side of the ravine is the Archaeological Natural Historical Park of the Rupestrian Churches. This path continues along the side of the hill to the Cathedral of Matera but today it has been closed off. The plan was to walk along this upper path up to the Cathedral, which continues at time 40:55. The bike jump scene from the new James Bond movie was filmed right here on this path. Click on the link above to view the scene. Here along the highest ridge in the city is the Matera Cathedral, built in the the 13th century. This ridge is what divides the Sassi into its two districts. When the church was built here in 1270, there were no houses and the entire area was surrounded by walls. The shape of the ridge surrounded by the ravine of Gravina and other steep cliffs made this area a natural fortress. This area of the Sassi is known as the Civita as this where the citzens, or cives, met for social gatherings. This part of Matera is on a plateau (pianoro) which overlooks the Sassi and has the nickname of “il piano.” In the 14th century, this market square was surrounded by warehouses, taverns and shops. By 1540, this area was the location of the governor’s office, the city prisons and the municipal palace. The prison cells were in the basement of the palace. Today, the Palace of Sedile is home to a hotel. Here at the beginning of the Via Ridola is the Church of Purgatory built between 1725 and 1747. The artwork on the facade all focus on the theme of death and the redemption of souls. Via Ridola is part of what is known as the “18th-century ridge” of the city. During the 1700s, this was the first neighborhood to be built outside of the Sassi and the Civita. This area is therefore known as the Case Nuove district, or “New Houses” district. The Archbishop of Matera had the Church of Saint Clare built between 1668 and 1702. Here at the end of Via Ridola is the Piazzetta Giovanni Pascoli, named after a 19th-century poet from Matera. The building at the end is the Palazzo Lanfranchi, built between 1668 and 1672 to host the diocesan seminary. In 2003, the building became the location of the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art of Basilicata. This path leads down into the second district known as the Sasso Caveoso. By the 18th-century, a total of 10,630 people, or 95% of the population of Matera, lived in cave houses. By 1951, that number had increased to 15,266 residents living in the Sassi which was then about half the population. The living conditions in the Sassi were unhealthy and considered to be inhuman. So many peasants and farmers were living in poverty that Matera became known as the “shame of Italy.” In the 1950s, in an effort to clean up the city and bring people out of poverty, the Italian government forced the residents living in the Sassi into public housing. The entire population of nearly 16,000 residents were relocated into new housing projects. For decades, the Sassi of Matera were left abandoned with the population now living up on the Piano (plateau). Beginning in the 1990s, a few residents began to see the potential for this unused and abandoned real estate. After the Sassi became a World Heritage Site in 1993, the area began to attract more and more tourists . Matera has now become one of Italy’s hottest travel destinations with over 1.5 million visitors each year. Tourism has increased so much in Matera, that is actually starting to become a problem for the residents as it is driving up the cost of living. The mayor of Matera recently said “We don’t want to be occupied by tourists. Tourism will deplete the city of its soul.” On January 19th, 2019, Matera was declared the European Capital of Culture for 2019 by the European Union. The award has had a huge impact on tourism, increasing the number of visitors by 30%. At the top of the stairs is the Casa Grotta, a fully decorated Sassi house which shows how residents used to live. The piazza ahead takes its name from the church built on the Eastern edge of the famous square. There are over 150 “Rock Churches” in Matera built mainly during the middle ages. At the top of this hill is the Santa Maria de Idris and San Giovanni in Monterrone rock church. The Church of Santa Maria de Idris dates back to the 12th-century and has an ancient crypt below its floor. Please SUBSCRIBE and press the bell icon so you never miss a new video. It really helps me out when you do this. Thanks! This plateau is above the 8th-century rock Church of Santa Lucia. Here on the plateau are ancient tombs from the Lombard era, that were hollowed out of the rock. This is a stone graveyard. This walk was filmed 4 days before Matera’s biggest festival, the Festa della Bruna. The festival honors the town’s sacred protectress, the Madonna della Bruna. The celebrations dates by to 1389. During the celebration, a statue of the Virgin Mary is carried on a chariot along the main streets of the city. The procession ends at the Piazza Duomo where it perfoms the “three rounds,” a symbol of taking possession of the city by the patroness. In 2017, author Helene Stapinski wrote a book called Murder in Matera, a true story and mystery about her family’s hidden secrets. While I personally have not read the book, my mother has and she highly recommends it. 🙂

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