Visit the surrondings of Matera
The area near Matera has extraordinary cultural and environmental resources.
Entering the state road number 7 in the direction of Taranto, you will find the rock sanctuary of the Palomba which represents the first monastic settlement to the north along the Gravina di Matera. A little further along the same road is the Palomba Contemporary Sculpture Park. It is a large and evocative space dotted with impressive sculptures by the internationally renowned artist Antonio Paradiso. A little further on there are the important cultural garrisons of the Murgia Materana Park.
To the west instead, following the road to Miglionico in Pietra Penta, along the gravina di Piacciano there is the Crypt of the Original Sin, one of the oldest and most important rupestrian churches of the Matera countryside where it is possible to admire a cycle of frescoes from the IX century. Not far from the crypt is the San Giuliano wildlife sanctuary
The Murgia ParkMuch of the territory of cultural and naturalistic interest near Matera is occupied by the Murgia Materana park, a vast territory that extends along the entire length of the gravina of Matera on both sides, both inside the canyon and in the immense limestone plateaus above . Also known as the Parco della Murgia, this regional park is a protected area that stretches for 8000 hectares in the territory of Matera and Montescaglioso. It was established in 1990 to protect a portion of the territory called Murge Materane which extends from the Apulian borders to the mouth of the Bradano river valley.
It is a particularly evocative natural environment, rich in naturalistic, historical and archaeological evidence. A portion of the park adjacent to the Sassi di Matera, is located in the UNESCO site and is included in the list of World Heritage to witness the strong bond that exists between this territory and the city of Matera.
The area of the park has been inhabited since prehistoric times as evidenced by the many archaeological finds kept in the Domenico Ridola Museum in Matera. From the first Paleolithic settlements found in caves and shelters along the gravine of Matera, such as the site of Grotta dei Pipistrelli, we move to the Neolithic settlements that are mainly located north of matera, which are characterized by the presence of entrenched villages related to the periods oldest of the Neolithic.
To these first prehistoric settlements are followed those related to the age of metals up to the Magno-Greek period. The relations of Matera with the nearby Greek colonies and the subsequent Roman domination, strangely have left little archaeological evidence, while with the arrival of the Lombards in the seventh century it seems that the history of Matera takes a new impetus. Both the Sassi and the area of the park saw, starting from the VIII century, the birth of numerous rock churches whose construction continued until the XIII century, together with a series of medieval rupestrian "Casali" also scattered along the Gravina stream of Matera.
The wildlife oasis of San Giuliano lakeThe lake of San Giuliano is an artificial reservoir that is a few kilometers from Matera and can be reached from the main road to Miglionico or from the road that leads from Matera to the rural village of La Martella. The lake obtained through the barrage of the river Bradano, has exhausted its life cycle but has not been abandoned because in the meantime the conditions of the area have become favorable so that one of the most important wetlands of Basilicata was created. Currently the lake is an area with special protection ZPS and a site of Community interest SIC, falls within the municipalities of Miglionico and Grottole.
The natural oasis of San Giuliano is frequented throughout the year both by migratory and permanent birds, among which are Storks, Cranes, Spatulas, Red Herons, Greater Whites and Cineraries as well as Morette Tabaccate, Avocets and Cavalieri d’Italia and the typical fauna of the fluvio-lacustrine areas, first of all the extremely rare Lontra. The area of considerable landscape and naturalistic value extends for 1300 hectares and is bordered by a scenic road that covers the entire side of Matera that allows very beautiful walks on foot or by bicycle. Along this road and the shores of the lake you can enjoy a splendid view and a rural landscape consisting of rolling hills cultivated interspersed with woods and Mediterranean scrub.