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Photo Hunt: RUIN: Sassi of Matera


I am posting my Photo Hunt early, as I will be traveling this weekend.
This is a photo from our 2003 trip to Puglia and Basilicata. It is a view of the ancient town of Matera, believed to have been founded by the Romans in the 3rd century B.C..

The ancient town, is known as the "Sassi di Matera" (meaning the stones of Matera). The sassi houses are dug into the tuff rock itself. Many are really just caverns. Some streets are built on the rooftops of other houses. They originate from a prehistoric settlement, and are some of the first human dwellings in Italy. The Sassi of Matera are now a Unesco World Heritage Site.


During the 1950s, the old town was a slum, with thousands living in unsanitary conditions, without plumbing or electricity. Malaria was prevalent. The town was evacuated, and people were moved to the newer box-like houses. The caves were left empty for years.


People began occupying caves, movie producers loved the ancient look of the area, and tourists came to see.


Could this have been one of the first piazzas?


On the way into town, oxen roamed freely in the road.


We followed this guy for a while.


Now some of these sassi homes have gone high tech. There are computers, servers, and even a 500 employee call center in one of the ancient caves!


It was a strange place to visit. There are very rough streets with uneven stones and steps. We had a guide, and while it was fascinating, there was an eerie sense to the place for me.

The photography and lighting in this video may give you an idea of what I mean. This photography is amazing.

Sassi: Light and Shade video

Comments (4)

Lovely photos of a lovely place! I'm sure I am going to like that place.

Have a great weekend :)

That looks like a cool place to visit. Thanks for including information about the village and the video. Good choice for this week's theme.

Wonderful post! I loved your photos and information on this amazing place. Great choice for this week's theme.


Fascinating, Palma! I cannot even imagine a call centre in one of those ancient caves.

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