Gay Guide • MATERA | What to See, Where to Stay, Best Gay Bars and Restaurants | LGBT Guide
Discover this City with our Quick and Practical Guide to Visit the Best Attractions, Savor Typical Dishes and Have Fun in the Best Gay Bars. All this through the Rainbow Eyes of the World Mappers
What to See, Best Places to Sleep, Where to Eat and to Have Fun in MATERA ?
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WHAT TO SEE in MATERA?
10 THINGS TO SEE in MATERA
Sassi of Matera - Ancient City
The Sassi are probably the first thing that comes to mind when someone talks about Matera. These are the ancient neighborhoods carved into the rock, on the side of the Gravina Valley, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. The Sassi with their beautiful interweaving of caves used as homes, alleys, stone churches, terraces, gardens and tunnels, are an excellent example of an architectural complex perfectly in tune with the natural environment: a unique landscape of its kind. The Sassi are divided into two districts: the Sasso Barisano, the largest district, whose houses are now shops, restaurants and hotels, and the Sasso Caveoso, considered the oldest district which best preserves the appearance of the rock village. Before starting to explore the ancient districts, we recommend a first stop at Casa Noha, the first FAI site in Basilicata. The old house, which belonged to the noble Noha family, has recently become a tourist information and documentation centre. An example is the film “The Invisible Stones. Extraordinary journey through the history of Matera” projected on the stone walls of the house, which tells the story of the city from different perspectives: architecture and art history, archeology and cinema history. Thanks to the technological path available through the Matera Invisibile APP, downloadable for free, you can discover the historic heart of the city through five paths linked to as many elements: water, stone, light, time and spirit.
Cathedral of Matera
At the top of the Civitas hill is the Cathedral from which you can enjoy a splendid view of the "Sasso Barisano". Dedicated to the Madonna della Bruna and Sant'Eustachio, protectors of the city, it was built in the 13th century on top of the remains of a Benedictine monastery. From 1627 the cathedral was dedicated to. The Romanesque-Apulian style facade has an imposing rose window with 16 rays (symbol of the wheel of life) and the Archangel Michael slaying the dragon. In addition to the famous stone crib created in 1534 by Altobello Persio, the Basilica houses numerous treasures including a Byzantine fresco of the Madonna della Bruna with Child, the "Universal Judgement", fragments of a cycle of frescoes, a beautiful carved wooden choir and the large altarpiece of the main altar.
Used for a long time by shepherds as a shelter for animals, the natural cavity was known to the locals as the "Grotta dei Cento Santi", due to the presence of numerous saints painted on the walls. On the back wall there are some biblical scenes from Genesis, while in the three apses there are Apostles, Archangels and the Virgin.
It is the large cistern dug under the central Piazza Vittorio used until the first decades of the last century for the collection of drinking water. Its name comes from the Latin term “plumbarius”. The tank, 15 meters deep and containing about 5,000 cubic meters of water, was part of an ingenious system for collecting rain and spring water consisting of a complex network of canals. A fascinating journey in the heart of the earth that will allow you to admire one of the largest pools carved into the rock in the world.
The MUSMA, Museum of Contemporary Sculpture of Matera, welcomes visitors with a rich collection of sculptures, ceramics, jewels, art books, prints and drawings donated by artists, collectors and private galleries. The museum is housed in Palazzo Pomeraci, known as the "Palace of a hundred rooms". The Museum also houses the Vanni Scheiwiller library, a rich collection of over 5,000 books donated by the widow of the publisher, a great art lover.
Consisting of the church of the same name and the convent, it dominates the Sasso Barisano from a rocky outcrop where one of the panoramic points of the city is located. Destroyed in 1734 by a terrible earthquake, the complex was restored and became the seat of the General Chapter of the Augustinian Order. Between the church and the convent rises the limestone bell tower, a parallelepiped with a single window on each side..
On the Lapilli hill, the Tramontano Castle rises in all its grandeur and with its three towers above the city of Matera. The beginning of the construction dates back to 1501 at the request of Count Giancarlo Tramontano and used in the following centuries as a prison. Today it is the site of numerous events, concerts, theatrical and fireworks displays (during the patronal feasts).
Natural Areas of Matera
Nature reserves, parks, wildlife oases that characterize the whole territory of Basilicata. The Murgia Park, the San Giuliano Regional Reserve and Colle Timmari are the main natural areas that can be visited in Matera. In the plateau there are the remains of ancient Neolithic villages. The area of Lake San Giuliano, on the other hand, is known for a strong presence of birds (140 species) and lookout huts where it is possible to observe them. Furthermore, Colle Timmari is a small residential village on Lake San Giuliano and is an important archaeological site.
Crypt of the Original Sin of Matera
A few kilometers from Matera, along the wall of the Gravina di Picciano is the Crypt of the Original Sin. It is a frescoed cave-church brought to light in 1963. Also known as the Sistine Chapel of rock mural painting due to the extraordinary pictorial complex (dating back to the 8th - 9th century) that decorates the walls of the crypt.
Rupestrian churches in Matera
The churches mostly date back to the Middle Ages, when Benedictine and Byzantine monks began to settle in the caves of the Gravina, transforming them into centers of prayer. Those mystical places, carved into the rock, are one of the characteristics of the entire Matera area: crypts, chapels, basilicas, sanctuaries and monasteries: exceptional works of art, expression of the historical and cultural heritage of these places. There are almost 150 churches in the Matera area for whose protection the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera, a UNESCO heritage site, was established. Among the many rupestrian churches you can visit: the church of San Pietro Barisano located in the homonymous Sasso, with a Romanesque-Baroque style facade and the interior completely excavated in the tuff; the church of Santa Lucia alle Malve containing important frescoes including that of the "Madonna del Latte"; Church of Santa Maria de Idris dug into the side of Monterrone and the crypt of San Giovanni. Four rupestrian churches grouped around a central courtyard form the Convicinio di Sant'Antonio. The oriental-inspired church is dedicated to Santa Barbara, reminiscent of the crypts of Cappadocia, full of frescoes including a depiction of Santa Barbara.
HISTORY of the STONES / SASSI of MATERA
The history of Matera is very ancient, in fact think that it is the third oldest city in the world after Aleppo in Syria and Jerico in the West Bank. Already inhabited in the Neolithic period, with the first economic, religious and political institutions during the era of Ancient Greece, a real town was formed. Then during the Roman period, Matera was included in the Regio II Apulia et Calabria. Later it was occupied by Longobards, Byzantines and Saracens. Starting from the 9th century BC. with the Norman period, Matera found itself in one of the best periods of its flowering. In fact, the city developed around the Civita and was protected by the walls. In the same period numerous hermit monks from Cappadocia arrived in the area of the Murgia Plateau and thanks to them, today there are about 150 rupestrian churches left. The history of Matera continues with the domination of the King of Naples Ferdinand I, followed by the arrival between the 15th and 16th centuries BC. of people from Croatia and Albania who will create a neighborhood called Rione Casalnuovo. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, during the Spanish period, Matera became the capital of Basilicata, until the role of power was transferred to the city of Potenza in the nineteenth century. Life in the Sassi area of Matera has always been linked to the poor hygienic-sanitary conditions of very small houses, without water or toilets, and spaces shared between people and animals. From the 1950s, interest in the fate of the city of Matera began to rise, with an allocation of funds for the purpose of building new residential areas. Finally, we come to 1993 when the Sassi of Matera were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and in 2014 the city was named European Capital of Culture for 2019.
Visiting this city at its best depends essentially on how long you have to fully enjoy it. Here is a solution based on the number of days available to you:
Day 1 - Complete Matera - Google Maps
Extra (by Car) - Rupestrian Churches & Crypt of Original Sin - Google Maps
(By opening the Maps with Google, you can easily follow our path)
5 BEST EXCURSIONS from MATERA
Altamura, Gravina di Puglia & Irsina
Montescaglioso & Craco
Alberobello & Ostuni
Locorotondo, Cisternino & Martina Franca
Laterza, Ginosa & Massafra
Click'n'Go - Click on Hotels, Restaurants, Bars & Clubs
to find them on the Map or visit their Website
WHERE TO SLEEP in MATERA?
10 BEST GAY FRIENDLY HOTELS in MATERA
A unique and unforgettable experience that you can have in Matera is to sleep in a room carved into the rock, perhaps in a luxury hotel. Unique and exclusive contexts that will make you daydream in an atmosphere that only Matera can offer.
Quarry Resort Luxury Hotel ***** ® Tested by World Mappers
WHERE TO EAT in MATERA?
10 BEST RESTAURANTS in MATERA Quality / Price
€€€ - L'Abbondanza Lucana
€€€ - Baccanti ® Tested by World Mappers
€€ - Osteria MateraMì
€€ - Ristorante Baccus
GAY NIGHTLIFE in MATERA
5 BEST GAY FRIENDLY PLACES, BARS & CLUBS in MATERA
Charlie’s Speakeasy (Gay Friendly Bar)
Wine & Coffee 9.1 (Gay Friendly Cocktail Bar) ® Tested by World Mappers
Area 8 (Gay Friendly Cocktail Bar) ® Tested by World Mappers
Boccadoro 96 eat&drink (Gay Friendly Bar)
Shibuya (Gay Friendly Cocktail Bar)
TRAVEL TIPS about MATERA by World Mappers
To complete your visit to Matera in the best possible way, we advise you to cross the Tibetan Suspension Bridge over the Gravina canyon which crosses the stream of the same name until you reach the Murgia Timone area. You can choose to explore and visit some rock churches of the Murgia Park alone or in the company of a guide. You can book your ticket by clicking here.
Did you know that you can also find a little piece of Dalì in Matera? In fact, starting from 2018, some works depicting paintings and sculptures of the Spanish artist's surrealism have been placed in the city. From the Wading Elephant, to the Dancing Piano, up to our favorite, the melting clock.
Most BEAUTIFUL PANORAMIC POINTS of MATERA
Enjoy the city from above from the best viewpoints of Matera that we recommend:
Via Madonna delle Virtù is the road that runs along the Sasso on one side and the Gravina on the other with beautiful views of the canyon and the Sassi of Matera. Continuing on via Madonna delle Virtù and taking via D'Addario you reach the complex of Sant'Agostino (church and convent), located right on the edge of a rocky outcrop. The square in front of the church is a beautiful vantage point.
A terrace that will let you admire the beauty of Matera. Probably the first panoramic point of the city that you will encounter because it is practically located in Piazza Vittorio Veneto.
This panoramic point offers the possibility to admire Matera from the other side of the Gravina canyon. An unmissable view.
A panoramic point in the heart of the city, directly on the Sasso Caveoso.
In our opinion, the most beautiful church in Matera, it seems to emerge directly from the rock, on the cliff of Monterrone. Behind the church there is a small square from where you can admire the Sasso Caveoso, the Gravina stream and the Murgia Park.
The Cathedral of Matera, dedicated to the Madonna della Bruna and Sant'Eustachio, stands on one of the highest points of the city in a perfect panoramic position on the Sasso Barisano.
From via Santa Cesarea, climbing some steps you reach a small terrace above the rock church of San Pietro Barisano. From here the view sweeps over the Sassi and the Duomo.
Matera was the film set of Mel Gibson's famous film "The Passion of the Christ". On our return from visiting the city, we watched the film again to relive Matera in all its beauty. If you visit the city in the summer, you will surely come across one of the open-air cinemas.
If you want to see something truly unique, don't miss the Sassi in Miniatura, a tuff work of about twelve meters that reproduces the Sassi of Matera down to the smallest detail. Furthermore, in this laboratory you can buy beautiful objects made of tuff. For more info click here.
If you want to take home a beautiful symbol of Matera, then you absolutely must buy a colored whistle, the Cucù - depicting a terracotta cockerel.
A symbol of the Murgia is the Falcon Kestrel, in danger of extinction. Precisely for this reason, among the Sassi you will find numerous wooden nests to help the reproduction of this small bird of prey.
Have you ever noticed shells on the walls of some Sassi of Matera? Think that thousands of years ago the whole area was covered by the sea, once it withdrew it then left uncovered precisely those limestone rocks from which the Sassi of Matera were built.
Near Matera is the archaeological site of Metaponto, the rich center of Magna Graecia which saw its origins in the 7th century BC. You can visit the Archaeological Area and the National Archaeological Museum of Metaponto.
GAY FRIENDLY TOURS
Do you want to discover the city more deeply through Matera's Best Gay Tours? We recommend the following local operators:
Gaily Tour - Tour Operator offering tours and excursions dedicated to the LGBT + community throughout Europe. Special Tours and Gay & Lesbian Friendly Guides ready to make you discover the beauties of this destination. Info & Booking: info@GailyTour.com
What to see near Matera ?
© Photographs of Matera by Merak Studio