The social cooperative OLTRE L’ARTE manages the urban circuit of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera, European Capital of Culture 2019 and organizes guided tours of the Sassi with specialized and authorized guides.
Santa Maria de Idris, San Giovanni in Monterrone, Santa Lucia alle Malve, Casa Grotta, San Pietro Barisano, the Church of Purgatory, Church of Materdomini, Cathedral Basilica, Diocesan Museum, Palombaro, Casa Grotta, Vicinato a Pozzo: an extraordinary heritage artistic value that OLTRE L’ARTE offers tourists not only in a historical key, but through itineraries capable of letting the deep sense of religiosity that inhabits the millenary history of this city, Matera, also known as “Civitas Mariae” emerge.

BEYOND ART, thanks to the qualified contribution of authorized tour guides, accompanies guests in an extraordinary cultural experience, which plunges into an atmosphere of deep recollection, prayer, ecstasy suspended in time and space, telling everything this to an audience of tourists that also includes the weakest social categories, sometimes discriminated against by use
of the country’s historical and natural beauties.


is an “on demand” audiovisual project, with free use, conceived by the coop. Beyond Art to offer the beauties of Matera through the web, with suggestive images, accompanied by a timely and engaging historical story. An effective and suggestive story of the places, of the history, of the beauties of Matera, to nourish the bond that places our city among the most popular Italian cultural destinations. A tool to increase curiosity and the desire to visit Matera.


“It was the year 1270 when the marvelous-looking mansion was completed”: these are the words of the Latin epigraph, walled up on the access door to the bell tower, which recall the completion of the Cathedral dedicated to Maria SS. della Bruna and Sant’Eustachio.
The original Romanesque-Apulian temple has undergone considerable changes over time, especially during the sixteenth century and in the first decades of the eighteenth, when demanding works were undertaken, after the visit of the Cardinal-Archbishop of Benevento Vincenzo Maria Orsini ( 1649-1739), who became pope in 1724 with the name of Benedict XIII. By the will of the energetic Archbishop Antonio Maria Brancaccio, we then proceeded to modify the mullioned windows of the cleristorio in single-light windows, the construction of the wooden false ceiling, the staking of the walls and the subsequent creation of stuccoes by the Neapolitan Michele Santullo (1717)


The rock church of Santa Lucia alle Malve is the first female monastic settlement of the Benedictine Order, dating back to the eighth century, and the most important in the history of the city of Matera.
A community that through its three successive monastic seats of Santa Lucia alle Malve, Santa Lucia alla Civita and Santa Lucia al Piano has been an integral part of the life of Matera following its historical-urban development over the course of a millennium.

The external front of the former monastic complex develops along the rocky wall with a series of entrances that lead into as many internal cavities. The rooms of the Community are identified by its presence, sculpted in relief at the top, by the symbolism of the martyrdom of Saint Lucia: the chalice with the two eyes of the Saint.
The entrance to the church, on the right of the complex, is highlighted by squared blocks of tuff that draw the line ending with a pointed arch on the bottom of which, within a lunette, is the liturgical symbol of the Saint.

Santa Lucia alle Malve is a large rock church that develops in three distinct naves which, despite having undergone heavy upheavals, after being abandoned by the monastic community, has left many of those marks to allow, with a pinch of imagination , to reconstruct the planimetric and architectural development.

Of the three naves that articulate the internal space, the one on the right, in which it is the current entrance, has always remained open for worship, so much so that even today on the day of Saint Lucia, 13 December, a solemn mass is held here, while the other two naves were transformed into homes and warehouses until the 1950s: a transformation that involved almost all the rock churches present in the two districts of the Sassi, as they were replaced, liturgically, with buildings of worship erected in the new district of the Piano . These rupestrian churches, desecrating, were transformed into homes, service rooms, warehouses, etc. with a process that began in the eighteenth century and went on until the dawn of the twentieth century

Originally, the central nave must have had individual liturgical spaces with an ascending progression from the level of the entrance door, up to the apse where the altar was located.

The presbytery, of all three naves, that is the part reserved only for priests, was enclosed by a series of columns, currently cut off, which descended from the vault offering a touch of high suggestion increased by the mobility of the light emitted at the time. from oil lamps.

The central nave was enriched by an iconostasis, that is the architectural element belonging to the liturgical spaces of the Greek Orthodox cult, which forms a divider between the nave of the church (classroom) and the presbytery part, embellished by the thin columns descending from the vault and by a base enriched by a series of frescoes that are currently found, sawn into squared blocks that make up a grotesque puzzle, in the structure of a flint located in the left aisle. A massacre that occurred during the transformation of part of the church into a home.

Noteworthy, in the flat vault, are the lenticular cavities that enrich the prebiterial area: they are symbolic domes highlighted, in their size, by a series of concentric circles that give a sense of depth.

An introductory speech is necessary to explain the presence of very ancient frescoes, some even of a millennium, so wonderfully preserved: they perfectly preserve their colors and their subjects only if executed with a precise technique, well known in the Matera area by the many active fresco masters. over the centuries.

This ancient artistic expression involved the drafting of a very wet layer of plaster on which a model in cardboard or other materials was placed with the shape of the subject to be finely pitted. It was then dabbed with a small patch soaked in coal dust, thus leaving a trace on the light plaster. This explains the reason why in some cases, and often in the same church, there are two frescoes perhaps in different colors but with the same shape, often even in positive and negative, as the same cardboard was used as a template but perhaps turned in the contrary.

Subsequently, the fresco was definitively outlined and colored, using colors obtained by mixing lime, tuff powder, sometimes organic substances with vegetable pigments derived from flowers and plants and with colored powders derived from the shredding of particular minerals and earth. All this had to happen, however, as long as the substrate was still damp, in fact by drying it fixed the color practically indelibly, as we can still observe today.


The Church of Santa Maria De Idris stands in the upper part of the rocky spur of Montirone (or Monterrone), near San Pietro Caveoso. The location is stunning and offers a unique view of the city and the Gravina.
The church of Santa Maria de Idris dates back to the fourteenth-fifteenth century and is part of a rock complex which also includes the oldest crypt, dedicated to San Giovanni in Monterrone. This crypt is important for the frescoes it preserves, ranging from the twelfth to the seventeenth century. The two churches are communicating.
The name of the temple – Idris – almost certainly derives from the Greek Odigitria (guide of the road, or of the water). In Constantinople the Virgin Mary was thus called and venerated, whose cult was introduced in southern Italy by Byzantine monks. The church has an irregular plan and is characterized by two distinct parts: one built and one excavated. The facade, modest and made of tuff, was rebuilt in the fifteenth century, following a collapse.
It is embellished with a small but elegant bell tower. The interior consists of a single room and has some fairly well-made frescoes, partly ruined by time and neglect. The altar is embellished with a seventeenth-century tempera, which depicts the Madonna and Child; on the right are paintings of Saint Anthony, the Holy Family and the Conversion of Saint Eustace. To the left of the altar you can admire an Annunciation, to the right a Crucifixion.


The rupestrian church of San Giovanni called in “Monterrone” owes its name to the tufaceous rock that dominates the Sasso Caveoso and the Casalnuovo district. Archaeological research, the dating of the frescoes and the few written documents date the original layout of the church to a period between the 12th and 13th centuries.
Abandoned already in ancient times for a long period, the church was annexed to the adjacent church of Santa Maria de Idris at the beginning of the 19th century; the creation of a narrow corridor connecting the two churches led to the almost total destruction of several frescoes, which are still minimally visible on the left wall of the nave and on some stones located in the presbyteral area.
The sequence of frescoes is interesting. Entering from Santa Maria de Idris you can admire, on the left, the fresco of Christ Pantocrator (12th century) and on the right, within a niche, the images of the Archangel Michael and St. Nicholas the bishop (13th century). Opposite the residual face of a saint monk (13th century) and the 16th century frescoes of Sant’Anofrio and a young saint.
In the main room of the church, within a niche, there are frescoes on one side of the images of St. James the Greater and St. Peter the Apostle (13th century), the latter depicted with a decorated halo of Cypriot derivation, and on the other a Annunciation (12th century) surmounted by the fresco of the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan River.
Looking at the main entrance you can admire on the right a late palimpsest fresco depicting the Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist and, on the left, several other palimpsestal frescoes with Saint Jerome, a Young Saint, the face of Saint Andrew and part of a Madonna with the Child, all from the 13th century.
Along the communication corridor with Santa Maria de Idris, isolated on a rocky ridge, there was the fresco of St. John the Baptist (13th-14th century), detached in 1972 on the initiative of the Superintendency of the Basilicata Galleries due to the dilapidation of the wall support and the repeated acts of vandalism which in that period, due to the abandonment of the Sassi, affected the churches and public places of the ancient districts.


San Pietro Barisano, originally called San Pietro de Veteribus, is the largest rock church in the city of Matera.
Archaeological investigations have made it possible to identify the first rock structure, dating back to the 12th-13th century, below the floor. With an initial expansion between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the excavation of the church was deepened and the side chapels were built. Of these interventions, only the terminal part of the chapel remains, located behind the second altar of the right aisle with the frescoes of St. Catherine of Alexandria, the Annunciation, St. Canio, St. Augustine, St. Eustace and St. Vitus. The second renovation, from the 18th century, gave the church its current form: a three-nave layout, a new façade (dated 1755) and the underground rooms intended for the “draining” of the corpses. This funeral practice, reserved for priests or aspirants, consisted in placing the corpses dressed in sacred vestments in niches modeled in the tuff; the mortal remains were removed only at the end of the decomposition. In 1903 due to excessive humidity, the parish was moved to the nearby church of Sant’Agostino along with most of the sacred furnishings, including the baptismal font. In the 60s and 70s, following the abandonment of the Sassi, most of the works of art were stolen or damaged.

Walking along the right aisle starting from the entrance, you will find:
> the altar of St. Joseph, on which the altarpiece of the Holy Family was placed, stolen in 1977 and of which part of the wooden frame remains;
> the altar of the Madonna della Consolazione, with the tuff image of the Madonna and Child crowned by angels and statues of various saints;
> the altar of the Blessed Sacrament with the precious majolica floor.

In the central nave there was the main altar – wooden – dated 1771, currently preserved in the deposit of the Superintendence for Historical, Artistic and Ethno-anthropological Heritage of Basilicata. You can see the frame of the altarpiece with the Coronation of the Virgin between Saints Peter and Paul, the work of the Materan artist Giovanni Donato Oppido, dated 1603 and unfortunately stolen in 1977.

In the left aisle, starting from the bottom, you can see:
> the altar of the Most Holy Crucifix on which was placed, within the oval frame in gold foil still visible, a 16th century wooden crucifix currently placed on the high altar of the church of Sant’Agostino. On the sides of the oval, the tuff statues of the Madonna delle Grazie and St. Michael the Archangel; above, the Trinity;
> the altar of the Annunciation, with statues and furnishings in tuff, severely damaged by vandals;
> the altar of St. Mary Magdalene with a statue of St. Anthony of Padua;

At the end of the left aisle, near the entrance, you can see the pit used for the casting of some of the bells on site and the entrance to the “Sancta Sanctorum”, the room where the liturgical furnishings, vestments, sacred books and the relics of the saints. Inside you can see the sixteenth-century frescoes of the Madonna with the Child and of San Donato Bishop.


Where the city was born

The MATA stands in an area that was previously occupied by a few buildings, especially funerary chapels, which at least a thousand years earlier housed the Benedictine Abbey of Sant’Eustachio.

At the center of this abbey there was a church completed in 1084, of which nothing survives except the relief (crypt), that is, the part below the main altar. It is the oldest rock church in the urban perimeter, now accessible from the Diocesan Museum. Inside the relief you can still see inscriptions on the walls that refer to the Benedictine world and traces of frescoes that testify to the use that this structure had.
We are in the heart of the medieval city; Matera is structured as a city, in the sense of an inhabited center organized into its various institutions, precisely in this period: this is the area where the city was founded.
In the 15th century the canons took the memory of the abbey of S. Eustachio and around this saint they created the identity of the city from a cultural point of view. The feast in honor of S. Eustachio is more cultured, linked to the world of priests and nobles, while the Madonna della Bruna remains the figure to which the people are linked.
The peculiarity of this saint is that it brings together East and West, confirmed by the fact that the life of the saint was described for the first time by S. Giovanni da Mascino (Eastern).
At the time, Southern Italy and Matera were close to two realities, as they were part of the Byzantine pole of attraction, a bit of the Latin one; this occupation is testified in the museum by the choir of the cathedral, with all the events of the life of S. Eustachio and some relics and reliquaries also of his son, S. Agapito. (S.Eustachio & Soci: Latin name of the family of S. Eustachio, which is all protector of the city).
The city’s identity was also built around the figure of St. John of Matera, a saint born in Matera in 1070 and rediscovered when the remains were moved from Pulsano to Matera in the 19th century. Here begins the journey into the history and cultural identity of the city of Matera and the Archdiocese, to reach today, through stories, objects and people who are finally shown in the Museum to Matera and tourists.


The ancient Casa Grotta in Via Fiorentini faithfully represents the modus vivendi of a typical family of Matera until the 1960s, during which time it was abandoned.
The site has been furnished with original furnishings of the time. Much care has been taken in the allocation of these elements, so much so that, at first glance, the visitor receives the impression of that of an environment in use and not that of a site that reproduces a domus typical of peasant civilization. materana.


The rainwater collection system which over the centuries has represented a peculiarity of Matera has meant that UNESCO – United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture – decided in 1993 to bring in the Città dei Sassi in its list of historical sites to be protected. The need to conserve water, a precious asset, has generated the creation of a water system capable of carrying water to almost the entire city, preserving it in the natural cisterns communicating with each other.
Especially in the Sassi, there are many cisterns, although it is necessary to distinguish the “private cisterns” from the “public water collection system”; every house-cave in the Sassi, in fact, was equipped with at least one private cistern in order to satisfy family needs. To these were added the “Palombari”, which were very capacious tanks with a different shape from the previous ones which could be accessed publicly.


MIB Immersive Museum of the Bruna

The museum was born in the context of a city already Unesco site since 1993 and European Capital of Culture for 2019 which has started a process of enhancing its roots as an ancient people of peasants and shepherds. The rite of the strazzo is the figure of a people who over the centuries have cultivated beauty, training the calloused and tired hands of work on a hard and arid land of the Murgia to handle paper, glue and gold leaf to build papier-mache artifacts that , crossing the city, remind everyone that we do not get attached to things: they are only tools that serve to convey universal values.

Si distruggono e si ricostruiscono perché il popolo si fida delle proprie risorse e sa che ogni giorno, ogni anno, si può fare ancora meglio. Si raccontano così le origini della festa e della storia di Matera guidando il visitatore in un percorso multimediale immersivo, emozionante e coinvolgente. Il sito ospiterà un’area shopping di prodotti manufatti di cartapesta e di riciclo creativo e artistico: la cartapesta ha il valore aggiunto di essere un’arte povera ed antica, che risulta modernissima in una società che sta provando a convertire il consumo in passione per il recupero, lo stesso che avevano i nostri padri contadini. Un riciclo non solo dei materiali ma il virtuoso recupero e riciclo dei valori.


“Vicinato a Pozzo

Imagine a territory that tells you firsthand about its history and how it has changed over time.
And that it is told with the sounds, voices and words of the characters who populated, inhabited or transformed it.

All this is the Vicinato a Pozzo, part of the Parco della Civiltà Contadina, a container of historical and cultural themes, a laboratory of testimonies and visions.

The Neighborhood in the rural civilization of the Sassi represented the typical meeting place, spatial and above all social, which established its own value system of interpersonal relationships and behaviors shared by its inhabitants.

Following its rediscovery in the 1950s, it was taken up by Adriano Olivetti as a model of community in the urban layout of the Borgo La Martella building where the first inhabitants from the Sassi were housed.

Today it is an exhibition space with the most advanced representative techniques, an example of sustainable restoration, capable of providing a contribution to the most modern issues in the management of cities and ecosystems.

Il Vicinato a Pozzo is a journey of experiential and above all emotional discovery, through visual and dialogue contents, installations, events and exhibitions that tell the many facets of the place, its contradictions, its values ​​and its millennial persistence.