Cava del Sole, the sun quarry located on the outskirts of Matera, is an enchanting place rich in history. The name originates from the ancient carved sun “sole”, with a human face preserved in the Chiesa del Sole. This church is adjacent to the quarry, the last bulwark of a medieval rock monastic settlement that dominates the part set into a rocky area.
The church is currently inaccessible, however looking at it from below it’s easy to understand the reason for this name: a sun carved into the ceiling. Looking above the church, it’s possible to see what remains of an old bell tower.
After being occupied by religious communities, the area was used by groups of expert stone cutters: the "Zuqquator", who were quarrymen.
Furthermore, small holes can still be seen along some of the walls, probably used by cutters to probe to see the degree of softness of the rock. The rock extracted in this quarry was loaded onto carts and transported to the inhabited center until the 1950s. This was limited to the Sassi districts only. In the following decades, following the gradual abandonment of the Sassi and the construction of new districts with more modern techniques and materials, the stone quarries including the Cava del Sole, were gradually unused and abandoned.
From the 90s until today, the quarry has undergone a functional redevelopment, becoming an incredible location lending itself to large events and artistic performances, with a capacity that reaches up to about 3,000 seats, offering unparalleled emotive experiences within the extraordinary scenery.