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Cripta del Peccato Originale

Certificate of Excellence
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Address: Contrada Pietrapenta | Basilicta, 75100, Matera, Italy
Phone Number:
+39 320 334 5323
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour

The Crypt of the Original Sin, in Matera, is located inside a natural cave...

The Crypt of the Original Sin, in Matera, is located inside a natural cave on the Murgia plateau, near the old Appian Way. Commonly known as “the Sistine Chapel of rupestrian art”, the Crypt was discovered in 1963 by a group of local youths, who noticed the splendid frescoes in what at the time, had become a shelter for sheep herds.Experts later dated the cycle of paintings back to the second half of the 8th century, with Late-Romanesque style and formal elements of Oriental inspiration, such as the Byzantine-style Triarchsand the profile of the Virgin Mary, majestically represented in the sumptuous clothes of the Byzantine empress, the Basilissa.The anonymous, humble artist – who was soon nicknamed the “Flower Painter” – depicted biblical figures in total freedom: God the Creator, Light and Darkness, Adam and Eve, the three Apostles John, Peter and Andrew, the Archangels and Mary. The paintings on the rough walls of the cave are different and unique in Matera’s iconographic context. The scenes are the fruit of the painter’s personal creativity and certainly speak of his freedom in translating complex depictions, and of a lively spontaneity in drawing images.

The Crypt of Original Sin may only be visited by booking.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

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Remarkable historic site

Just outside of Matera about 20 minutes this former monastery has well preserved murals dating back to the 1400s in a cave which used to be the chapel/church. There is a tape... read more

Reviewed 4 days ago
Dillon Beach, California
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634 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 51: English reviews
Dillon Beach, California
Level Contributor
39 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

Just outside of Matera about 20 minutes this former monastery has well preserved murals dating back to the 1400s in a cave which used to be the chapel/church. There is a tape narration in English and each mural is highlighted by overhead lights. We drove to it directly but it is important to contact them ahead and have the text... More 

Thank Halibuthunter
Saint Louis, Missouri
Level Contributor
535 reviews
123 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 144 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 April 2017 via mobile

We found the Crypt easily using the directions below. Having only been discovered relatively recently (1963) the grotto dates to about 900 ad & lies in a small ravine & has several excellent frescoes. The English audio guide provides a nice overview. To go there take the car and follow directions from Matera to POTENZA, after about 10km you will... More 

4 Thank JimSTL1021
Wellington UK
Level Contributor
19 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 January 2017

We visited the Cripta, having pre-booked via the website before we left Britain. We were given clear directions as where to go to pick up the tickets, although you do have watch carefully for the turn off. We were lucky to be two of only four people visiting and it was just fabulous. Our guide was helpful and the audio... More 

2 Thank Sheena P
Level Contributor
11 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 December 2016

Location not easy to find nor to reach, and thus extra rewarding. The audio guide gives an excellent insight into the wall paintings, a "must see" site whenever in or near Matera

2 Thank Peter G
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Level Contributor
21 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 November 2016

Really nice and interesting place to visit, if you like old paintings made in the rock. you have to reserve by phone or via website and then go to a vine yard (Dragone) , where they take you with transport to the Cripta. The guide inside it is in several languages (English, Italian, Spanish, amongst others). Photos with flash are... More 

1 Thank vicQ9563XW
Munich, Germany
Level Contributor
35 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 October 2016 via mobile

A very unusual and interesting place, the audio guide explained the symbolism of the pictures very well, if you are in Matera you should definitely go to see it.

Thank Emelie_83
Level Contributor
47 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 September 2016

My brother-in-law recommended this for our group after researching things to do around Matera. Very nice presentation and explanation of religious paintings on a cave wall. The presentation has lighting to highlight the paintings during the presentation. Located outside Matera. Quite difficult to find. Our B & B owner wrote out directions which did not help us. 2 off duty... More 

Thank rlrobles5
Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
42 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 September 2016 via mobile

This tour is an absolute must if you are in the Matera area. The history of the crypt is tremendous, and Antonio will answer as many questions as you want to ask. He was super knowledgable about all kinds of off beat things I had read about the cave and added so much color to the stories. That first moment... More 

2 Thank CorinnaBsWorld
Edison, New Jersey
Level Contributor
27 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 September 2016

If it is possible - visit the crypt and see the frescoes from the 9th century. The presentation is excellently performed in the dark with lights pointing to each fresco and music and narrative.

1 Thank olga_ben
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
51 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 September 2016 via mobile

Stunning and well preserved frescos. The old place of worship is tucked away in a cave just outside of Matera. The tour has very well done audio explanation of what you see with excellent lighting. No photos unfortunately.

Thank IndianaGeologist

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