Matera, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, is a treasure rediscovered very late during late twentieth century and since then it has been quite a topic of discussion for all good and not-so-good reasons. Loved or hated, but no one could dispute the beauty of the little town built with stones, primarily yellow sandstones. When the earliest rays of the sun falls on the top of the building, it’s just golden.

The Surprise sun rise.

Close your eyes and imagine this – a town made of stones on the top of the hill, bordered by the gorge and on the other side of it is a lush green land with numerous caves. There’s a brook in between. On the top of the town, there’s a large church and in front of it, is a small space that gives you a spectacular view of the little town.

From the view point, you see the tip of the other church, and narrow lanes spiral down the hill and merge into broader roads. Right in front of you is a hairpin bend and the street lights besides, glow like the stars.  

matera, italy, sunrise
Moments before the sun rise | Matera, Italy ‘2019

You wait for the sun to rise but wait, there’s a little surprise the Almighty has planned for you. It suddenly becomes windy and it starts drizzling. You stand there because you don’t want to miss the glimpse of the sunrise not complaining of the cold. Slowly the drizzles turn into snow flakes.

Matera, snow, sunrise
The surprise sun rise | Matera, Italy ‘2019

Isn’t this beautiful? I did not know how to react to this beautiful start of the day. I do not know why I was jumping like a child; standing at the edge, thanking the Almighty.

Italy’s “Sonar Kella“.

The snow did not last long but it left me and my friend very cold and numb. We definitely were not prepared for this. We look a little rest and saw the sun rise from behind the church and slowly the clouds drift away. We walked down the township sticking to the edge of the gorge. My entire focus was on the valley below and the brook. Little did I realise that to my right I had the city look like a golden fortress. Looking back at the lane we walked, I could see the golden tip of the highest homes in the neighbourhood.

…shonar kella! Apologies for the Bengali reference.

From across the Gorge, inside the cave. 

matera, cave view, city from cave.
The stone city from the cave | Matera, Italy ‘2019

I travelled with Pavel who is not only a student studying in this university but also an enthusiastic trekker and photographer. When he heard that the cheap way to reach the other side of the gorge is an abandoned and not-very-legal hiking trail, he exclaimed, “Did you just say illegal?”. Francesca, our host who owns The Rock Hostel, had more warnings than suggestions, “But beware, there are wild boars.. and there’s frost, it might be slippery.” I guess before she could find more English words to explain to us why it wasn’t really a good idea, we were just out of the hostel to find the abandoned trekking route.

So there we were, two young lads, camera and tripods on our back jumping fences, hiking up and down the hills just managing not-to-slip from where we are; the hanging bridge was scary I must add. Pavel was the happiest that moment.

We reached the other side and the caves. These caves were inhabited since the stone age. But the other side of the gorge and the caves, should be another blog post, should you ask for it by dropping me a private message here.

To see the city glow in the sun, to have spread the arms as if wings that could flutter in the strong cold wind, made me look at the Almighty’s creation with utter amazement. With no amount of description would help you feel how incredibly beautiful this place is.

The stunning sun set at Matera.  

A thousand lit lamps | Matera, Italy ‘2019

We walked to the other end of the old town through the heart of the city, sneaking at times to see if there’s a view. I heard the city gets covered with a pinkish hue during the sunset. When we reached an abandoned place, we decided to stay there till the sun sets. This again was perhaps the highest point in the region from where we could see the entire stone city.

The golden hue slowly made way to the orange, the red and different shades of blue of the sky. The households starting lighting their bulbs and there it was – another view of heaven, right in front of us.


Thank you for reading this far! Do ask me questions about the trip and the place and if you are planning a Europe trip, plan a couple of days in Matera. Do give me a review of this blog post either publicly or here in FB messenger. If you like this post and the photographs, please share it with your friends? And after I’m done with my exams, I’ll process and upload more photographs, only if you want.

About Anirban

I'm now a student of MS in Data and Knowledge Engineering, in Otto-von-Guericke Universitat Magdeburg, in Germany. I like exploring newer places and their culture. Stay connected on the social media.

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I'm now a student of MS in Data and Knowledge Engineering, in Otto-von-Guericke Universitat Magdeburg, in Germany. I like exploring newer places and their culture. Stay connected on the social media.

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