La Raccolta delle Acque

Useful Information

Location: Via Purgatorio Vecchio, 12, Matera.
(40.66353791623552, 16.61131004656782)
Open: APR to OCT daily 10-13, 15-19.
NOV to MAR daily 10-13.
Fee: [2021]
Classification: SubterraneaSubterranea Museum SubterraneaCistern
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: not allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: La Raccolta delle Acque, Via Purgatorio Vecchio, 12, Matera 75100 MT, Tel: +39-328-2099219.
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.


1139 San Giovanni da Matera dies.
1800 cistern built by Monsignore Di Macco.
1933 Chiesa del Purgatorio Vecchio excavated by Eleonora Bracco, director of the Archaeological Museum of Matera.
1993 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


The Museo della Raccolta delle Acque (Museum of the Water Collection) is dedicated to the cisterns of the city Matera. It is located at the underground church Chiesa del Purgatorio Vecchio (Church of the Old Purgatory). The site was excavated in 1933 by Eleonora Bracco, director of the Archaeological Museum of Matera. The excavations revealed ancient tombs from the 4th and 3rd century BC. The Chiesa del Purgatorio Vecchio built much later, between the 13th and 15th centuries.

The whole structure is connected to the local Saint San Giovanni da Matera. He lived in his paternal house in the city and died in 1139. Subsequently his birthplace became a church and was enlarged to his devotion. It was expanded again and became the sacristy of the Chiesa del Purgatorio Vecchio. Both were elevated to parishes in 1200 to defend women from the insulting attacks of the French who came in the wake of the Angevins. The parishes were abolished in the 16th century.

The Palombaro or cistern is a quite exceptional room with walls in different angles. The walls show water marks in various heights, created by water standing at the same height for a long time. This cistern was built in 1800 by Monsignore Di Macco. It was the final of a long series of cisterns which were connected. As a result the quality of the water was obviously very good, but on the other side during times of low water there was probably no fresh water because it was all used up before. The water conduits that connected to the next cistern can be seen right at the entrance.

The main sight is the enormous cistern, there is no exhibition or explanation except for the cisterns. If you want to see see historic furniture of cave houses or arte exhibitions you are wrong here. However, there are also other sites which show cisterns in Matera.