matera, italy.

5:28 PM

One of the most enchanting places in the world - which until recently was relatively unknown - is the ancient city of Matera, located in the Basilicata region in southeastern Italy. Matera is a unique example of a cultural tradition and civilization which stretches back to the Neolithic age. The old city was created out of a rocky ravine. The numerous natural caves in Matera were the first houses of the Neolithic inhabitants of the region, who transformed the natural landscape into new forms of architecture.

Caves are carved out one above the other and arranged in a seemingly chaotic way until it is realized that the caves are really a labyrinth of houses. The roof of one house may appear as a road, a stairway, a garden or as the floor of yet another house. Walking through the old city, many chimneys sprout out of the road, and you find yourself walking on the roofs of other houses. Distinguishing the natural rock formations and the architecture created by the ancient inhabitants is often impossible.

Matera was developed by its inhabitants over the centuries in a manner that is now called "Spontaneous Architecture" due to the way the city conforms to the natural environment while revealing many very sophisticated and elegant styles. This form of architecture strikes the attention of visitors arriving in the city, as it creates a surreal landscape reminiscent of the emotions stirred before certain modern abstract paintings.

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