Madonna delle Virtù

San Nicola dei Greci

Useful Information

Location: Via Madonna delle Virtù, 75100 Matera MT.
(40.66855782100837, 16.611358526588365)
Open: All year Mon-Thu 10-19, Sat, Sun 10-20.
Guided Tours: All year daily 10:30, 16.
Fee: Adults EUR 12, Children (6-12) EUR 8, Children (0-5) free, Students (-26) EUR 8, Seniors (65+) EUR 8, Disabled EUR 8, Residents of Basilicata EUR 8.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 9, School Pupils EUR 6.
Guided Tours: Per Person EUR 8.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided. guided: D=45 min, Max=30, Italiano - Italian.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Madonna delle Virtù, Via Madonna delle Virtù, 75100 Matera MT, Tel: +39-377-444-8885. 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.


11th century oldest frescoes in the church Saint Nicola dei Greci.
12th century Church of Madonna delle Virtù excavated.
1959 La Scaletta founded.
1967 completely restored in the original layout, reconstructing the entrance in the central apse.
1987 Fronte dell'Arte set up the exhibition of contemporary sculpture "The Great Exhibitions in the Sassi".
1993 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


The cave church Madonna delle Virtù is located at the road of the same name, right at the edge of the gorge of the torrente Gravina. Rather strange is the fact that there are actually two cave churches, one on top of the other. Right above the Madonna delle Virtù is the cave church San Nicola dei Greci. Adjacent is an ancient monastery and all are connected by underground passages. Since 1987 the Fronte dell'Arte club has set up the yearly exhibition of contemporary sculpture Le Grandi Mostre nei Sassi (The Great Exhibitions in the Sassi) in the Madonna delle Virtù rock complex San Nicola dei Greci every summer. The exhibitions are not restricted to the churches, they are partly open air with an sculptures in the Sassi and on the Murgic plateau. The exhibition were dedicated to sculptures from contemporary artists. Currently there is the exhibition Salvador Dalí. La persistenza degli opposti (The persistence of opposites) since 2019. Due to the forced lockdown because of Covid 19 the exhibition has now been extended and will stay at least during 2021.

The cave church Madonna delle Virtù is constructed like a three-nave Romanesque basilica. The clear architecture and the beautiful frescoes make this church unique among the cave churches of Matera. The cave was abandone and became an illegal dump, but in 1967 it was completely restored in the original layout including the reconstruction the entrance in the central apse. The renovation was carried out and financed by the organization “La Scaletta”.

The cave church Saint Nicola dei Greci has two naves, both ending with an apse, separated by a wall. The crypts are covered by frescoes which are painted in the Byzantine tradition and are dated to the 11th-12th century. The most important is the triptych of Saints Nicholas, Barbara and Pantaleone which stands out in the left apsidal basin. It is dated to the 13th century. The Crucifixion with the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist dates from the 14th century. The church was used for burial during the Middle Ages, in the right nave and on the plateau above are graves cut into the floor.

As the churches are part of the art exhibition a ticket of the exhibition is required. There are two guided tours per day which require valid tickets plus an additional ticket for the guided tour. Those tours are only in Italian, but it is possible to book guided tours in other languages for groups. (English Français - French Español - Spanish). The guided tours are for the art exhibition, not the cave churches.