"Sassi di Matera", Unesco's world heritage
Matera, a province of Basilicata, is also known as "the city of the Sassi" or "the underground city" because its many historical "Sassi" alleys make it one of the most ancient cities in the world that are still inhabited today. This natural grottos set in stone and transformed into complex structures, located inside two natural amphitheaters (Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano), were acknowledged as Unesco's world heritage in 1993. The Sassi preserve the testimonies of human settlements from the paleolithic era to the present.
The history of Matera is charming and complex: a city on the border full of contrasts, combination of different landscapes, civilizations and cultures. It was strongly influenced by the Christian religion that led to the building of important places of worship such as the Cathedral, the church of San Giovanni Battista, the church of San Domenico, the church of Santa Maria della Valle Verde on the Via Appia. Around the Cathedral, on the top of the Civita hill, a urban settlement developed. Evidences of the medieval, renaissance and baroque age can be found all over the city in its grottos, palaces, churches, staircases, gardens and vegetable gardens.