Matera is a unique town, with an extraordinary historic and archaeological heritage: that is why Matera and its Sassi have been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Observant tourists would have probably noticed a huge cross planted in a rocky spur just in the middle of the Sassi districts. Well, it is the cross of “Madonna de Idris” Church, one of the most beautiful and stricking of the town, mostly carved out of the rock. It dates back to the period between the 1200 and the 1400 and it had been carrying out its liturgical functions for ages, until the middle of the last century. The name “Idris” probably comes from “Odigitria” (meaning “life guide”); but it could even come from the cisterns that have been discovered within the church itself and which were called “idrie”.
Inside this church is made up of an irregular nave and, unfortunately, today it is no more possible to admire its original beauty because of the continuous manipulations it has suffered over time. Through an inner tunnel you can go into the cave crypt of San Giovanni in Monterrone, a very poky and magic place with an ancient atmosphere. Its walls are very rich in frescos representing several saints, even though most of them have been recently removed to suffer a restoration process.
Although the Church of Madonna De Idris seems to be very difficult to reach, actually it is very easy since you just need to go up the wide staircase. Once you get to the top of the rocky spur you can visit both churches or simply enjoy the breathtaking view over the Sasso Caveoso and the Murgia plateau, since it is the highest point in the Sassi.