Old dwellings, carved right in the rock… a deep ravine with a fast stream (Gravina) on its bottom… roofs that become floors for houses above… A dense net of narrow streets and a constant feeling of a non-real toy-like space. This is Sassi di Matera — a unique cave city at the heel of Italy’s “boot” that housed thousands of people.

Cave cities are not so rare on our planet. Some of them still exist in modern world and remind us about the primitive life in distant past. But Matera is absolutely different and unique. You will be surprised to find out a very special fact about this unusual place…

A walk around Matera will bring you to a distant past. The first carved caves appeared here more than 9000 years ago

Sassi di Matera

Photo: By Tango7174, from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: By Tango7174, from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Simple dwellings were carved right inside the rocks. Thus people could get more homes for the growing population

Sassi di Matera

Photo: By Airin, from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: By Hajotthu, from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: Revol Web/flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

The old town, called “Sassi di Matera” appeared as a prehistoric troglodyte settlement. These homes were literally primitive

Sassi di Matera

Photo: vic15/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: pixabay.com (CC0 Creative Commons)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: By Airin, from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 1.0)

Domestic animals and cattle lived under one roof with their owners, so disease was a common thing

Sassi di Matera

Photo: vic15/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: pixabay.com (CC0 Creative Commons)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: Revol Web/flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: By Cristoforo64, from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

But there’s a special fact that makes Matera absolutely unique…

Sassi di Matera

Photo: Piervincenzo Madeo/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: Eduard Marmet/flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: pixabay.com (CC0 Creative Commons)

… people still live in these abandoned ruins!

Sassi di Matera

Photo: pixabay.com (CC0 Creative Commons)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: Daniele Peterlini/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: Eduard Marmet/flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

So, Matera is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited cave city in the world

Sassi di Matera

Photo: Loris Silvio Zecchinato/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: By Dominique grassigli at Italian Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

After the WWII some locals were forced to leave their caves because the cliffs became unstable

Sassi di Matera

Photo: By Airin, from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 1.0)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: By Dominique grassigli at Italian Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

 

Some of the caves were rearranged into restaurants and hotels with absolutely unique atmosphere

Sassi di Matera

Photo: John Leeson/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: Rex Hammock/flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

By the end of the 20th century old houses of Matera have received running water and electricity

Sassi di Matera

Photo: pixabay.com (CC0 Creative Commons)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: By Tango7174, from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

You may find this amazing place in numerous movies. One of the most famous among them is The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson

Sassi di Matera

Photo: Clemensfranz, Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: pixabay.com (CC0 Creative Commons)

 

Since 1993 Sassi di Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Sassi di Matera

Photo: By Joergsam, from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: pixabay.com (CC0 Creative Commons)

Sassi di Matera

Photo: pixabay.com (CC0 Creative Commons)

 

Can you imagine your life in a 9000-years old cave city? If you’re looking for adventures, this unique place should be a must in your bucket list!

How to get to Sassi di Matera:

You can get to Sassi di Matera by train or by bus from the city of Bari.

Sassi di Matera hotels:



Booking.com

Sassi di Matera on map: