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Matera, capital of the province, whose extraordinary past is full of history, art, culture and wise sayings, will astonish any visitor.
The ditched villages of the Murgia plateau and the immense archaeological heritage belonging to this enchanting town and preserved in the National Museum D. Ridola, witness the permanent presence of mankind from the Stone Age up to present times. This is the town of the "Sassi", the ancient quarters that, shrouded in archaic charm, are an example of an incomparable urban structure and that are now all part of the world heritage, bestowed on the area by Unesco.
Town of the one hundred and more rock-hewn churches, revealing Latin and Byzantine frescoes, inspired by the mysticism of solitary monks and embodied in religious art.
Matera is one of the most ancient towns in the world because of the continual presence of mankind from the Paleolithic age up to present times.
An archaeologist from Matera, Domenico Ridola, after whom the National Museum has been named, supplied copious stratigraphic documentation especially regarding the different historic periods of the town from the Early Iron Age up to the Roman and Greek periods.
In 664 Matera became part of the Longobard dukedom, in 938 it was sacked by the Saracens and in 1043 it was dominated by the Normans when Guglielmo Braccio di Ferro was nominated the Count of Matera and Apulia.
After the Norman domination, Matera underwent the Hohenstaufen domination. In 1497 Giancarlo Tramontano, who came from Naples, became the Count of Matera but he was killed in 1514 by the insurgent populace who could not bear his persistent cruelty any longer.
In 1663 Matera, that had already been annexed to the "Terra d'Otranto", became part of Basilicata as the capital of the region until 1806. Matera has been the capital of the province since 1927.