The abandoned village of Craco in Matera, Italy, is currently one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. It is also a popular location for filming various movies and TV series.
The village is situated approximately 40 kilometers away from the Gulf of Taranto. It was built on top of a very steep area to prevent the attacks of enemies. Its striking appearance made it highly distinguishable from its surrounding area.
But what exactly happened in the former charming village, and what made its residents abandoned it completely?
Craco: The Glory Days
Records revealed that the village was first inhabited by the Greeks who moved to the area from the coastal shores of Metaponto. The land was own by Archbishop Arnaldo from the town of Tricarico. Then a nobleman named Eberto reportedly gained control of the village from 1154 to 1168. In 1179, a man named Roberto became the village’s landlord. Later on, the village became a main military center under the reign of Frederick II.
During the 1200s, the townspeople built a university in the village. By the 13th century, its population gradually increased. As the number of residents grew, more developments started to arise in the area. In the 1500s, four massive palazzi were established in the spot, but a plague happened in 1656 that resulted in the death of hundreds of people.
The town continues to expand until the 19th century. During that time, the village reached the limits of its expansion. It started to have numerous shops, cinemas, schools, and public squares.
But because of the unstoppable progress in Craco, the residents were not able to predict the impending doom that will fall upon the picturesque village.
Craco: When The Exodus Begins
The village’s location happened to lie in the part of Basilicata where intensive natural disasters occur. It often experienced damaging earthquakes, landslides, and soil erosion. But the final blow to the villagers was the devastating landslide that happened in 1963 due to urban expansion. The residents were forced to vacate their properties to avoid more losses.
The families who need to leave Craco transferred to Craco Peschiera, located in the valley below their original homes. They lived in tent cities for years before the Italian government managed to develop permanent housing solutions. They can still see the silhouettes of their original home at the hilltop, making it a regular reminder of the lives that they rapidly left behind.
After all the villagers left the area, the ghost town became a scenic tourist destination. The city was locked down for safety reasons, but guided tours could explore the outskirts of the beautiful place.
People come to Craco to see the remains of a charming Italian town on top of a hill. It also became an ideal location for many movies, including “The Passion of Christ” in 2004. It is also the backdrop of a 2015 Pepsi commercial in Japan.
The former residents of Craco regularly conduct fund-raising events to spend for its conservation.