Rupestrian Churches Park
The Natural Historycal and Archaeological Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera, known also as Parco della Murgia Materana, is situated in the eastern part of Basilicata and covers an area of about 8000 hectares in the territory of Matera and Montescaglioso. The area of the park is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Sassi of Matera.
The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, as evidenced by the many fossils on display at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale Ridola Matera, at rest or the Cave of Bats, attended in the Paleolithic and Neolithic villages of Murgia Timone, Murgecchia and Trasanello surrounded by moats dug defensive in the rock, which are characterized in the middle Neolithic to the Serra d’Alto pottery, ceramics figulina painted in brown with geometric motifs and ribbon handles with busts often animals that takes its name from the hill of Matera, which is associated in the final Neolithic pottery of Diana Bellavista.
One of the most important features of the Murgia is the presence of over a hundred cave churches scattered throughout the territory, sometimes hidden by dense vegetation and dug along the steep banks of the ravine in inaccessible and difficult to access, decorated with spectacular frescoes testify to the devotion that lasted until our day.
There is also a wealth of wildlife in the Murgia Park: along the paths you are likely to come across porcupines, stone martens, foxes, weasels, badgers, wildcats and boars. You can also see various birds of prey including the Egyptian vulture, the common buzzard, the royal kite, the Lesser Kestrel, a small falcon that has become the emblem of the park, and that in springtime flies in from the African savannah to reproduce and then leaves in autumn heading southwest to pass the winter in the Sahara desert
The park has a wide variety of plants, typical of Mediterranean woodlands, such as the downy oak, the Macedonian oak, the carob tree, and holm oak as well as the juniper, the mastic, the broom shrub, and also typical garrigue vegetation such as the cistus, the butcher’s broom, thorny thyme, the ferula and the asphodelus.
There are also various flowers such as the widow of the plain, the apulian bellflower, the Ionian helianthemum, the elegant convolvulus, the thomas flax, the thomas saffron, and the ofris matheolana, a small and rare endemic orchid.