The Cathedral of the Madonna della Bruna and Sant’Eustachio is the Cathedral of Matera, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of the city, and to the Christian martyr Saint Eustace. The church is located on the highest point of the old city, between the two Sassi, the ancient districts of Matera.
The cathedral was built between 1230 and 1270, on the area of an ancient Benedictine monastery from the 11th century dedicated to Saint Eustace. Originally, the church was dedicated to Santa Maria di Matera and, later, to Santa Maria della Bruna, also protector of the city. Starting with 1627, the Cathedral of Matera was dedicated both to the Madonna della Bruna and to Saint Eustace.
The interior underwent considerable transformations starting with 1627, when the stuccos and decorations were added. In 1719, the ceiling was covered by a false wooden ceiling, decorated in the 19th century with three beautiful paintings by the Calabrian artist Battista Santoro. In 1776, the stuccos were covered with a gold leaf.
Since 2003, the church was affected by important restoration works. In 2006, the church received a series of consolidation and restoration interventions, mainly on the medieval trusses and previously collapsed cornices. On March 5, 2016, the church was reopened to worship.
Unlike the interior, that has undergone several transformations over time, the exterior preserves its original shape almost intact.
The facade is dominated by a rose window with sixteen rays, surmounted by the Archangel Michael. In the center of the facade, there is the main portal, closed by a round arch with the statue of the Madonna della Bruna. On either side of the door, are the statues of Saints Peter and Paul.
On the left side of the church, there is the 52-meter high bell tower, with four floors, of which three with mullioned windows and the fourth with single light windows, surmounted by a pyramid.
The interior has a Latin cross plan and three naves, with the central one rising above the others. The naves are separated by round arches supported by ten columns surmounted by capitals.
TIP: Don’t miss the incredible Chapel of the Annunciation (Cappella dell’Annunziata), the penultimate chapel on the left aisle, dating back to the 16th century. The chapel has a coffered ceiling and niched walls, and houses a statue of the Virgin Mary and the Angel on the altar, flanked by Saint Roch and Catherine of Alexandria, with a Pietà in the lunette above.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Cathedral of Matera is located about 1 kilometer away from the Stazione Centrale, the city’s train station. From the Central Station, you can take one of the buses of Linea Sassi, to get to Piazza San Pietro Barisano, about 300 meters away from the church. A bus ticket costs 0.80€ at the ticket office or 1.50€ on board. From the train station, on foot, you can reach the church in about 20 minutes.