The Crypt of St. Andrew, a coenobitic church dated XII - XIII century. A.D. approximately, is located in the district of Casalnuovo immersed in Caveoso, area rich environments dug in calcarenitic ridge.
It presents an arched entrance and is spread down into two areas interspersed by two round arches supported by rectangular pillars completely drawn into the rock forming two tunnels.
The first environment, beyond the vestibule, is prayer, whose planimetric shape resembles the Latin cross. From the back entrance, on the left, we see the presence of a large bowl with the altar plinth where certainly the small group of cenobitic monks prayed in isolation. Inside, above the tanks are marked crosses sgraffito and bas-relief, basic symbols of faith and divine intervention on humans. This first space, then through the centuries, is partly transformed, first by monks and, after their abandonment by the people instead able to perform daily life and manual labor. In fact, you may notice the presence of "Palmenti", stone basins where treading grapes to extract the juice, and consequently also the presence of two cisterns to collect rainwater. The collection tanks are crucial because they represented a primary resource for human survival. In specific place are three tanks, a "tub", which filling took place by means of a channel dug on the outside of the court that was merged rain water inside, and the other to "drop", so-called for its particular shape constituted by a narrow mouth and a very large belly, generally deep minimum 4 meters .; this collected rainwater from the roof by means of a terracotta rainforest connected to the entrance hole in the ceiling; the third tank, located between the 2nd and 3rd level, in the wall, served as the basis in times of drought and was filled manually.
All these tanks are plastered with earthenware and fully functional. Please remember that the Sassi of Matera became UNESCO World Heritage in 1993 thanks to the rainwater harvesting systems.
Going down the stairs you will reach the second room (the first underground). Here the monks slept on straw pallets, were isolated and attuavano their penance according to a strict discipline set by strict rules that prepared them to the purification of the soul. Niches of various sizes carved into the rocks were used by the monks to position oil lanterns to illuminate or the few items of daily use.
The third environment (the second underground) is the true and proper crypt.
Before entering the crypt you can see, the input on the arch, the trace of a cross whose arms are placed diagonally (called CRUX decussata) and inscribed in a circle, and it is precisely the type of cross that probably led to 'attribution of the name of the place in St. Andrew. In this environment, a result of the renovations have been made to detail findings: a grave with part of the remains of what would have been a significant figure of the monastic community, probably an abbot. Above it it sees a painting depicting perhaps a little angel; superiorly, in the apse, it came to light a piece of wall painting depicting a blessing Christ.
On the vault of the crypt, finally, you can see the various graffiti rolling down the walls where the symbolism of the cross is repeated constantly.
Want to learn the history of the Crypt Of St. Andrew?
Book your visit.
from April to October daily from 9.30 am to 19.30 pm.
from November to March every day from 9.30 to 17.30 pm.
Full ticket cost € 2.00 - reduced € 1.50
audio guide included in the entrance fee in Italian, French, English, spgnolo, Japanese, Russian, German.