In Matera and the immediate surrounding area among the municipalities of Matera, Montescaglioso and Ginosa you can discover the History through the vast complex of more than 155 Rock hewn Churches, Monasteries, Chapels and Hermitages. As evidence of their believes and their closeness to God, during the centuries the different religious orders, practising the Greek-Orthodox religious rite before and the Benedictines of the Latin rite later, these people not only embellished the caves with numerous frescoes, but widened them, leaving wonderful examples of architecture characterized by iconostasis, arches, vaults and aisles.
Over the centuries this territory was the seat of shepherds and peasants who used to live in dwellings obtained by adapting natural caves and have left indeleble sings of the relationship between man and nature. This can be seen through groups of houses and rupestrian villages, provided with burial sites, quarries, settling basins (water purification system), ancient “Palmenti” (thubs excavated in the rock to produce wine) and the so called “Jazzi” (ancient sheepfolds excavated in the rock). To preserve this huge architectural, cultural and natural heritage, much like today’s Cappadocia, in 1990 was established the Regional Park of the Murgia Materana and of the Rock Churches (Parco Regionale della Murgia Materana e delle Chiese Rupestri), where you can also discover the rich flora and fauna of the area.
The flora of the Park consists of 923 species, corresponding to about one sixth of the entire italian national flora and to one third of the regional one: this is a considerable number, considering that the surface of the area is about 8.000 hectars. During Spring time until the end of the Summer, the blu sky is crossed from hundreds of kestrels (falco grillaio), symbol of the Park, arrived here from Northern Africa to build their nests under the tiles of the roofs of the Sassi.
The tour takes place on the so called “Promontory of Murgia Timone”, in front of the amazing Skyline of the Sassi and of the Civita, showing all the peculiarities above described, by using the paths overlooking the Gravina Canyon. During the tour you will visit some of the natural caves and some of the most interesting Rock Hewn Churches, such as San Vito alla Murgia, San Falcione and the rich of frescos Madonna delle Tre Porte (Madonna of the Three Doors). And don’t forget that also the Park has been UNESCO World Heritage since 1993 and is included among the most important natural settings used to shot movies, in particular for the Crucifixion but not only these: do you want to know which ones? Come and discover them with me...
Upon request it is possible to discover the other paths of the Park by making Trekking to visit more Rock Churches, rupestrian villages, hamlets, ancient stations of cattle drive and more, hidden in the more than 8.000 hectars of the Park.
|2,5 hours, including the transfer times from Matera Centre.
|Medium. Part of the tour is not on regular roads but on rocky paths.
|Comfy shoes (no heels), camera and during summer water, cap and sun cream.
Price and notes:
The tour is private but, upon request and according to availability, it is possible to make a Tour Sharing with other guests.
If you don’t have a car to reach the the Park (15 minutes by car from Matera Centre), it is possible to book a shuttle bus or a taxi.
The tickets to visit the Rock Churches in the Paark are free because your will be with a local licenced Tour Guide. This tour can be combined with other tours of Matera or Tours Around it. Please contact me for more info and price.