The Archeological Natural and Hitorical park of the Chiese Rupestri del Materano
, also known as the Parco della Murgia Materana, it is a protected area that extends on both sides of the Gravina di Matera, a deep canyon that runs along the Sassi.
Part of the territory of the park, about one thousand hectares, was included in the World Heritage in 2007 in addition to the Sassi for the Unesco site of Matera. The Murgia Materana Park extends for about twenty kilometers on both sides, along the bed of the Gravina di Matera stream, along a North - South axis. Inside there are many natural and artificial caves, some of which have been used as shelters since prehistoric times, others are part of rupestrian farmhouses and villages inside which there may be monasteries, places of worship, rupestrian churches, factories and shelters for animals.
From a naturalistic point of view, the park offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in uncontaminated nature and to be able to go for walks or trekking by combining physical activity with culture and archeology. The prevailing vegetation is that linked to the river areas and the Mediterranean maquis, there are a large number of medicinal and edible plants and there is no shortage of botanical rarities such as spontaneous orchids, one of these is typical of this environment and takes its name from Matera.
Visitare il Parco della Murgia Materana
The Murgia Materana park
it is a highly recommended stop as part of a tourist visit to Matera.
There are many places where you can go to live this experience.
In the Palomba district located at the north-eastern entrance of Matera, you are in an area with a widespread presence of large tuff quarries. Among the places not to be missed, you can freely visit the Palomba Sculpture Park, made up of a large quarry and a series of characteristic environments of the Materan Murgia of great charm. Here the artist Antonio Paradiso has created an extraordinary place by merging the rock landscape with his own works, some gigantic in stone and iron.
Next to the Sculpture Park you can reach the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Palomba, one of the great Marian sanctuaries in the Matera area located at the top of a large rock complex that overlooks the Gravina di Matera.
One of the most beautiful and historically rich places in the Murgia Materana Park, it can always be reached from the S.S. 7 (via Appia) with entrance next to the Sanctuary of Palomba. It is a vast area that contains some of the most beautiful and interesting evidence of the primordial settlement of man in the Matera area. There is a Neolithic village investigated in the early 1900s by Domenico Ridola, a Bronze Age necropolis, and several rock complexes that testify to the importance of the place from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages.
Murgia Timone and the park viewpoint
Among the most visited places is the Park belvedere located on Murgia Timone in front of the Sassi of Matera, from here the rocky landscape is offered in all its spectacular beauty. The belvedere is easily reachable by car along the S.S. 7 (via Appia) which connects Matera to Laterza with the indicated exit. Going up the road that leads from the state road to the belvedere you will find the rock complexes of S. Nicola alla via Appia, of Murgia Tre Ponti and on the plain the complex with the rock church of San Falcione. Arriving at the belvedere, immediately below are the rock Church of Madonna delle Tre Porte, and that of S. Agnese.
On the Murgia Timone plain it is possible to go on excursions and visit the eastern side of the Gravina di Matera (Belvedere path), the Neolithic villages of Murgia Timone, the rock church of Madonna delle Croci, an excursion that requires more time and for which it is recommended a guide.
The Rupestrian Complexes
The Park of the Murgia Materana contains a large number of rupestrian complexes that characterize its cultural landscape, bearing witness to human settlements from prehistory to the second half of the modern age. After the Middle Ages these rock complexes or farmhouses were mainly used as shelters for animals in pastoral practices.
In addition to those mentioned in the more accessible places of Murgia Timone, Murgecchia and Contrada Palomba, the most important complexes are located south of the city of Matera where the Park extends up to the territory of the neighboring municipality of Montescaglioso. To the southeast are the complexes of the Agna district where the famous Grotta dei Pipistrelli is located, the finds of which are exhibited at the Ridola National Museum, the Ofra complex, the Santissimo Crocifisso alla Selva (known as Cristo la Selva), the Saraceno, the complexes of Murgia S. Andrea in the countryside of Montescaglioso.
To the south along the Gravina di Picciano there are many other complexes such as those of Santa Lucia al Bradano, and above all that of the Crypt of the Original Sin, whose paintings dating back to the Lombard era are of exceptional historical and cultural value.