Chiesa Rupestre della Madonna della Croce

Useful Information

Location: 75100 Matera MT.
From Matera take SS 7 towards Taranto. Brown signs for Belvedere Murgia Timone, Chiese Rupestre.
(40.659110, 16.620540)
Open: closed.
Fee: closed.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Light: bring torch
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Chiesa Rupestre della Madonna della Croce, 75100 Matera MT, Tel: +39-0835-336166.
Jazzo Gattini/Masseria Radogna (c.da MurgiaTimone), Tel: +39-0835-332262, Fax: +39-0835-1970751, Cell: +39-388-8925407, Cell: +39-320-2636528. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


mid-13th century frescoes painted.


The curch Madonna della Croce (Our Lady of the Cross) is located at the rim of the Gravina gorge, opposite the city Matera. In other words, it is not easy to get there, the gorge is really deep, there is no bridge and no trail. And while it is only 350 m from the Terrazza Santa Barbara, a southern suburb of Matera, a little complicated to get there. First follow the signs to the Centro Visite Jazzo Gattini, which is the Visitor Center of all sites on the eastern side of the gorge. Then it's necessary to do a hike. From here it's 1.2 km south on a straight single-lane gravel road, it turns west and its another 750 m to the gorge. While it is theoretically possible to drive, actually there is no sign which prohibits this, and the road is not really bad, but its actually the road of the farmer. Anyhow, the cave church is currently closed. There is so far no info why and how long it is closed, it is actually a church and churches in Italy are generally open so believers can enter them.

The cave church has a wooden door, followed by an antechamber. There is a sort of barrier to the main chamber of the church, a transversal arch and a low parapet. The main chamber is more or less quadratic. A cross is carved into the ceiling of the main room, which is probably connected to the name of the church. There are numerous crosses engraved on the walls. At the far side is an apsis with a half-cupola and an altar dug into the wall.

This church is said to be one of the best preserved of all the rock churches. It is also one of the most beautiful cave churches here, because of the fresco in the apse dated to the mid-13th century. It shows the Madonna Queen (Kyriotissa) seated on a throne with the Child blessing with her right hand, and the archangels. Their names are written in Greek letters, Angelus Gabriel and Angelus Rafael. All those details show the byzantine origin of the art.