From Underground Slum to European Capital of Culture: Matera, the Subterranean City of Caves

Jul 07, 2018 333

BY: Tom Dobbins

Above a steep canyon cut by the fast flowing water of the River Gravina lies one of the oldest communities in the world, whose architecture is defined by the rocks among which it sits. Matera, found in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, is a picture-perfect, white-stone city that originates from a prehistoric troglodyte settlement.

The area’s special caves were used as a natural shelter from the harsh climate as early as 10,000 BC and, while the city has developed a unique, more modern personality alongside its cave-dwelling past, its success and perception has always be tied to its historic core—giving Matera a long and storied history that will culminate in a stint next year as a European Capital of Culture. 

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