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Matera

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Matera
Comune di Matera
Panorama of Matera
Panorama of Matera
Coat of arms of Matera
Coat of arms
Matera within the Province of Matera
Matera within the Province of Matera
Location of Matera
Matera is located in Italy
Matera
Matera
Location of Matera in Basilicata
Matera is located in Basilicata
Matera
Matera
Matera (Basilicata)
Coordinates: 40°40′N 16°36′E / 40.667°N 16.600°E / 40.667; 16.600
CountryItaly
RegionBasilicata
ProvinceMatera (MT)
FrazioniLa Martella, Venusio, Picciano A, Picciano B
Government
 • MayorRaffaello De Ruggieri
Area
 • Total387.4 km2 (149.6 sq mi)
Elevation
401 m (1,316 ft)
Population
 (1 January 2018)[3]
 • Total60,403
 • Density160/km2 (400/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Materani
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
75100
Dialing code0835
Patron saintMadonna della Bruna
Saint day2 July
WebsiteOfficial website
The Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Matera - veduta della Civita da S. Maria di Idris.JPG
The Sassi of Matera
CriteriaCultural: iii, iv, v
Reference670
Inscription1993 (17th Session)
Area1,016 ha
Buffer zone4,365 ha

Matera (Italian pronunciation: [maˈtɛːra], locally [maˈteːra] (About this soundlisten); Materano: Matàrë [maˈtæːrə]) is a city in the region of Basilicata, in Southern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Matera. The town lies in a small canyon carved out by the Gravina River.

Known as la città sotterranea ("the underground city"), its historical centre "Sassi" contains ancient cave dwellings. The exact date when these were first occupied, and the continuity of subsequent occupation, are questions that scholars still debate. Sassi, along with the park of the Rupestrian Churches, was awarded World Heritage Site status by UNESCO in 1993.

Matera is one of the 2019 European Capitals of Culture, together with the Bulgarian town of Plovdiv.[4]

History[edit]

The area of what is now Matera has been settled since the Palaeolithic (10th millennium BC). This makes it potentially one of the oldest continually inhabited settlements in the world;[5] alternatively it has been suggested by Anne Parmly Toxey that the site has been "occupied continuously for at least three millennia and occupied sporadically for 150-700 millennia prior to this".[6]

The town of Matera was founded by the Roman Lucius Caecilius Metellus in 251 BC who called it Matheola.[7] In AD 664 Matera was conquered by the Lombards and became part of the Duchy of Benevento. Anne Parmly Toxey writes that "The date of Matera's founding is debated; however, the revered work of the city’s early chroniclers provides numerous, generally accepted accounts of Goth, Longobard, Byzantine, and Saracen sieges of the city beginning in the eighth century and accelerating through the ninth century CE."[8] In the 7th and 8th centuries the nearby grottos were colonised by both Benedictine and Basilian monastic institutions. The 9th and 10th centuries were characterised by the struggle between the Byzantines and the German emperors, including Louis II, who partially destroyed the city. After the settlement of the Normans in Apulia, Matera was ruled by William Iron-Arm from 1043.

After a short communal phase and a series of pestilences and earthquakes, the city became an Aragonese possession in the 15th century, and was given in fief to the barons of the Tramontano family. In 1514, however, the population rebelled against the oppression and killed Count Giovanni Carlo Tramontano. In the 17th century Matera was handed over to the Orsini and then became part of the Terra d'Otranto, in Apulia. Later it was capital of the province of Basilicata, a position it retained until 1806, when Joseph Bonaparte assigned it to Potenza.

In 1927 it became capital of the new province of Matera.

Government[edit]

Main sights[edit]

The Sassi (ancient town)[edit]

Matera has gained international fame for its ancient town, the "Sassi di Matera". The Sassi originated in a prehistoric troglodyte settlement, and these dwellings are thought to be among the first ever human settlements in what is now Italy. The Sassi are habitations dug into the calcareous rock itself, which is characteristic of Basilicata and Apulia. Many of them are really little more than small caverns, and in some parts of the Sassi a street lies on top of another group of dwellings. The ancient town grew up on one slope of the rocky ravine created by a river that is now a small stream, and this ravine is known locally as "la Gravina". In the 1950s, as part of a policy to clear the extreme poverty of the Sassi, the government of Italy used force to relocate most of the population of the Sassi to new public housing in the developing modern city.

Until the late 1980s the Sassi was still considered an area of poverty, since its dwellings were, and in most cases still are, uninhabitable and dangerous. The present local administration, however, has become more tourism-orientated, and it has promoted the regeneration of the Sassi as a picturesque touristic attraction with the aid of the Italian government, UNESCO, and Hollywood. Today there are many thriving businesses, pubs and hotels there, and the city is amongst the fastest growing in southern Italy.

Monasteries and churches[edit]

Stairways in Matera.

Matera preserves a large and diverse collection of buildings related to the Christian faith, including a large number of rupestrian churches carved from the calcarenite rock of the region.[9] These churches, which are also found in the neighbouring region of Apulia, were listed in the 1998 World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund.

Matera Cathedral (1268–1270) has been dedicated to Santa Maria della Bruna since 1389. Built in an Apulian Romanesque architectural style, the church has a 52 m tall bell tower, and next to the main gate is a statue of the Maria della Bruna, backed by those of Saints Peter and Paul. The main feature of the façade is the rose window, divided by sixteen small columns. The interior is on the Latin cross plan, with a nave and two aisles. The decoration is mainly from the 18th century Baroque restoration, but recently[when?] a Byzantine-style 14th-century fresco portraying the Last Judgement has been discovered.

Two other important churches in Matera, both dedicated to the Apostle Peter, are San Pietro Caveoso (in the Sasso Caveoso) and San Pietro Barisano (in the Sasso Barisano). San Pietro Barisano was recently restored in a project by the World Monuments Fund, funded by American Express. The main altar and the interior frescoes were cleaned, and missing pieces of moldings, reliefs, and other adornments were reconstructed from photographic archives or surrounding fragments.[10]

There are many other churches and monasteries dating back throughout the history of the Christian church. Some are simple caves with a single altar and maybe a fresco, often located on the opposite side of the ravine. Some are complex cave networks with large underground chambers, thought to have been used for meditation by the rupestrian and cenobitic monks.

Cisterns and water collection[edit]

Ferdinandea Fountain

Matera was built above a deep ravine called Gravina of Matera that divides the territory into two areas. Matera was built such that it is hidden, but made it difficult to provide a water supply to its inhabitants. Early dwellers invested tremendous energy in building cisterns and systems of water channels.

The largest cistern has been found under Piazza Vittorio Veneto. With its solid pillars carved from the rock and a vault height of more than fifteen metres, it is a veritable water cathedral, which is navigable by boat. Like other cisterns in the town, it collected rainwater that was filtered and flowed in a controlled way to the Sassi.

There were also a large number of little superficial canals (rasole[what language is this?]) that fed pools and hanging gardens. Moreover, many bell-shaped cisterns in dug houses were filled up by seepage. Later, when the population increased, many of these cisterns were turned into houses and other kinds of water-harvesting systems were realised.

Some of these more recent facilities have the shape of houses submerged in the earth.[11]

Other sights[edit]

The Tramontano Castle

The Tramontano Castle, begun in the early 16th century by Gian Carlo Tramontano, Count of Matera, is probably the only other structure that is above ground of any great significance outside the sassi. However, the construction remained unfinished after his assassination in the popular riot of 29 December 1514. It has three large towers, while twelve were probably included in the original design. During some restoration work in the main square of the town, workers came across what were believed to be the main footings of another castle tower. However, on further excavation large Roman cisterns were unearthed. Whole house structures were discovered where one can see how the people of that era lived.

The Palazzo dell'Annunziata is a historical building on the main square, seat of Provincial Library.

Culture[edit]

Palazzo Lanfranchi
Auditorium of the culture centre Casa Cava

On 17 October 2014, Matera was declared European Capital of Culture for 2019, together with Bulgaria's second-largest city, Plovdiv.

Cuisine[edit]

Restaurant in Matera.

The crapiata is an old recipe hailing from Matera which was born in the Roman period. Moreover, it is a common ritual grown into "Sassi di Matera" and celebrated on 1 August; it is still celebreted in the town village. The crapiata is a poor dish made just with beans and cereals and it was the outcome of the farmers' hard work, in fact the only allowed seasoning was the salt. The ingredients are water, chickpeas, beans, wheat, lentils, potatoes and salt.

The Matera's bread is a specific bread made through an old production typically used by Matera bakers. This manufacturing provides for the use of the durum wheat semolina. As several historians verify, the bread has an ancient tradition dated back to the Naples' Kingdom and even before. Thank to some artistic and literally proofs that attest the bread's relevance for the city's economy, we know that it's been one of the most important food in the past, because of the traditional wheat plantation. Also suggestive is the ritual of the three incisions made with a knife on the wheat dough which symbolizes the Holy Trinity; they wanted to thank God to enjoy one of the most valuable commodity.

Matera's inhabitants, as the tradition says, during the Carnival were used to eat the meat of the sheep that could not longer be used to produce milk or wool. The owner of the sheep, already dead, put it on a table and took away its coat. Later the meat was cut and so ready to be cooked. Because the sheep weighed about 8–10 kg., when they cooked it they invited all the neighbours and they enjoyed the time with dances, music and town wine. The hearty meal was called pignata (in dialect:"La pignèt") because it was the name of the terracotta container similar to an amphora in which was cooked for a long time the meat. In the vase with the sheep meat there were other food like shelled and cut potatoes("U patèn sczzlèt i tagghièt"), cut or even whole onion ("La cjpaud"), tomatoes in pieces ("‘U pmmdaur"), celery ("L’occij") and salt ("‘U sèl"). The container was closed with a wheat dough before being placed on low fire powered with the charcoal. The cooking lasted about 3–4 hours and then the meat could be eaten with some cheese on it. The party ended really late when everyone went back home happily.

Cinema[edit]

Because of the ancient primeval-looking scenery in and around the Sassi, it has been used by filmmakers as the setting for ancient Jerusalem. The following famous biblical period motion pictures were filmed in Matera:

Other movies filmed in the city include:

Music[edit]

Matera appears in the music videos for the songs "Sun Goes Down" (2014) by Robin Schulz[12] and "Spit Out the Bone" (2016) by Metallica.[13]

Religious traditions[edit]

The origins of the festival are not well known, because its story has changed while being handed down from generation to generation. One of these legends says that a women asked a farmer to go up on his wagon to accompany her to Matera. When she arrived to the periphery of the city, she got off the wagon and asked farmer to bring an her message to bishop. In this message she said she was Christ's mother. The bishop, the clergy and the folk rusched to receive the Virgin, but they found a statue. So the statue of Madonna entered in the city on a triumphal wagon. Another legend talks about a destruction of the wagon: Saracens besiege Matera and the citizens to protect the painting of Madonna, hit it on a little wagon. then they destroyed the wagon to not let the Saracens take the painting.[14]

Different hypotheses are attributed to the name of Madonna della Bruna : the first one says that the noun derives from the Lombard high-medieval term brùnja (armor/protection of knights). So the name mean Madonna of defense. Another hypothese supports that the name comes from herbon, a city of Guinea, where the Virgin went to visit her cousin Elisabetta. The last hypotese says that the name comes from the colour of the Virgin's face. The profane insertions as the navalis wagon and its violent destruction, with the intimacy and the religious solemnity, make this festival an interesting event that sinks its roots in the ancient representations that happened in a lot of mediterranean's countries. For example, in Greek culture celebrating also wedding parties through tiumphal wagon (ships on wheels richly designed) was recurring.[15] The Madonna's sculpture is located into a case in the trasept of the Cathedral, dedicated to her. Here there is also a fresco that portrays her. It dates back to the 13th century and it belongs to the Byzantine school.[16]

Notable people[edit]

Transportation[edit]

Matera is the terminal station of the Bari-Matera, a narrow gauge railroad managed by Ferrovie Appulo Lucane. The nearest airport is Bari Airport. Matera is connected to the A14 Bologna-Taranto motorway through the SS99 national road. It is also served by the SS407, SS665 and SS106 national road.

Bus connection to Italy's main cities is provided by private firms.

Sports[edit]

Twin towns[edit]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Superficie di Comuni Province e Regioni italiane al 9 ottobre 2011". Istat. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Popolazione Residente al 1° Gennaio 2018". Istat. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Total Resident Population on 1st January 2018 by sex and marital status. Municipality: Matera". National Institute of Statistics (Italy). Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Matera European Culture Capital 2019". gazzettadelsud.it. 17 October 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  5. ^ Leonardo A. Chisena, Matera dalla civita al piano: stratificazione, classi sociali e costume politico, Congedo, 1984, p.7
  6. ^ Anne Parmly Toxey (2016). "Recasting Materan Identity: The Warring And Melding Of Political Ideologies Carved In Stone". In Micara, Ludovico; Petruccioli, Attilio; Vadini, Ettore (eds.). The Mediterranean Medina: International Seminar. Gangemi Editore spa. ISBN 9788849290134. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  7. ^ Domenico, Roy Palmer (2002). The Regions of Italy: A Reference Guide to History and Culture. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 37. ISBN 9780313307331.
  8. ^ Toxey, Anne Parmly (2013). Materan Contradictions: Architecture, Preservation and Politics. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 36. ISBN 9781409482666. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  9. ^ Colin Amery and Brian Curran, Vanishing Histories, Harry N. Abrams, New York, NY: 2001, p. 44.
  10. ^ World Monuments Fund - Rupestrian Churches of Puglia and the City of Matera
  11. ^ Museo Laboratorio della Civiltà Contadina ONLUS (2014) [1st. Pub. 2007]. Water-harvesting systems of Matera, from Neolithic to the first half of XX century. Matera. ISBN 1500611565.
  12. ^ Lilja Haefele (6 October 2014). "Robin Schulz "Sun Goes Down" (Lilja, dir.)". videostatic.com. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  13. ^ "Matera nel nuovo video dei Metallica". retecinemabasilicata.it. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  14. ^ Rota, Lorenzo (2001). Matera : the History of a Town. Matera: Giannatelli. p. 342. ISBN 9788897906001.
  15. ^ "The Feast of the Madonna della Bruna". Festa della Bruna. 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  16. ^ Morelli, Michele (2006). La festa della Bruna. Matera: Adecom. ISBN 9788897906001.

Other sources[edit]

  • Giura Longo, Raffaele (1970). Sassi e secoli. Matera: BMG.

External links[edit]