Comune di Craco (comune of Craco or Montedoro) is an abandoned village now ghost town, located in the region of Basilicata, the province of Matera, Italy. It is about 25 miles inland from the Gulf of Taranto, at the instep of the ‘boot’.
Intentionally built on a very steep summit for defensive reasons, Craco sits on cliff 1,300 feet above Cavone River Valley. As far back as 1060 the town’s name is dated under the possession of the Bishop of Tricarico, Archbishop Arnaldo. Even farther so, there are tombs within Craco that date back to the 8th century. Before this, in 540 it was called ‘Montedoro’ by Greeks who had moved further inland. The lovely village has had a rich past but through-out all time the population never reached past 3,000 inhabitants. By the time the mid 1900’s came, the earthquakes began taking their toll on the town. From 1959 to 1972 a series of landslides severely damaged the village causing some areas to become uninhabitable. Due to Craco’s location on the hill of Pliocene sands overhanging the clays and ravines causing progressive incisions, the town has been known as a geological threat since 1910. The entire population of Craco, 1,800 people, moved to Craco Peschiera in 1963 because of the natural destruction, leaving Craco alone and uninhabited.
There are few religious buildings in the town of Craco that are still used and revered today. The church of the Observant Friars Minor dedicated to St. Peter dates back to the 17th century and has partially been restored and used as a conference center. The Chiesa Madre de San Nicola Vescovo (The Mother Church of St. Nicholas Bishop) stands above the skyline just below the tower and was the largest church in the village. When the old town collapsed, the statuary and interior fixtures were moved with the inhabitants to the new town Craco Peschiera. The Santa Maria della Stella was a small chapel on the side of the hill and is part of an active association to paying homage to the Virgin Mary. The small and newer church Sant’ Angelo resides on the only livable part of the hilltop of the town, and houses religious artifacts like the mummified body of Vincenzo, Martyr of Craco, the towns patron saint.
This unique town has been used as a setting in a few movies such as King David, Saving Grace, The Nativity Story, James Bond : Quantum of Solace, and the Passion of the Christ. In the Passion of the Christ it is the town of Craco that can be seen in the scene of Judas hanging himself.
You can find this interesting and historic place with these coordinates. 40°22’43.16?N 16°26’25.25?E.
Images 1 and 3 used under Creative Commons License Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 2.0 Generic, images were under this license January 19th, 2014. Images 1 and 3 by Jane Drumsara [Flickr/44460990@N04].
Image 2 used under Creative Commons License Attribution Non Commercial No Derivs 2.0 Generic, image was under this license January 19th,2014. Image 2 by Basilicata Turistica [Flickr/basilicatatravel].