We did a tour of the underwater cisterns that were used to collect rain water for the town for centuries. These cisterns were forgotten and no longer used in the early 1900’s and were re-discovered in 1991. This huge underground system was built in the 1800’s and was carved out by hand. It is huge and is over 16 meters tall or deep – about 52 feet. At one time, the water reached all the way to the ceiling. Today, the cistern gets water from springs, as rain water is not that pure. The wells that used to draw water with buckets all the way from the street level have long been closed off, and hence, no-one knew for sure where the cisterns were. Matera was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993, largely due to the discovery of these cisterns and the way they collected rain water.
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