San Giovanni Battista

Matera, Italy

The Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista is a Roman Catholic church dating to the 13th and 18th centuries, located in Matera in the Italian region of Basilicata, and dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. Like the Duomo, the church is an important example of Apulian Romanesque architecture.

In 1215, 'penitents' of Santa Maria di Accon arrived in Matera from the Kingdom of Acre and, in 1220, they were granted the chapel of Santa Maria la Nova, previously a Benedictine establishment (until 1212). In 1229, they began work on a new church as a replacement for this chapel; this was completed in 1236. In 1480, at the time of the Ottoman invasion of Otranto, the nuns abandoned the church, which lay outside the city walls.

In 1695, due to the poor state of the nearby parish church of San Giovanni Battista in Sasso Barisano, Antonio Del Ryos Colmenares, archbishop of Matera and Acerenza, with the agreement of the nuns of Accon, transferred the parish to the abandoned thirteenth century church of Santa Maria la Nova. Ensuing eighteenth-century additions included the 1701 sacristy and 1735 Cappella del Santissimo Sacramento. At the end of the century, due to the deterioration of the three domes over the transept, they were demolished and replaced with vaults. To help contain the thrust of the new superstructure, the façade was lined with a series of arches, though leaving visible the original thirteenth-century portal, above which there is a statue of the Baptist.


The floor plan is that of a Latin cross with a central nave, with 'Lecce vaults' [it], flanked on each side by an aisle with cross vaults. In the left aisle there is a polychrome altar with a fresco above depicting Santa Maria la Nova, while in the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament there is a painting on canvas by local artist Vito Antonio Conversi. In addition to ornate capitals, there are two sculptures attributed to the school of Altobello Persio.


The church opens onto and gives its name to a small piazza. Adjoining the church to the southwest is the former Ospedale di San Rocco (Hospital of Saint Roch), which incorporates the small Chiesa di Cristo Flagellato (Church of the Flagellated Christ), with seventeenth-century frescoes. In 1610, the Hospital incorporated part of the façade of San Giovanni Battista; some sculptural elements, including two elephants and a telamon, were relocated elsewhere on the façade and external walls of the church.



Your name


Founded: 1229
Category: Religious sites in Italy

More Information


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Niko (3 months ago)
Lovely church. Looks great on the outside and inside ?
Lee Bell (3 months ago)
Located in the square where the DB5 donut with firing rail guns was filmed for No Time To Die.
Scot S (5 months ago)
This is one of the most beautiful churches that I’ve ever visited, both inside and out. It is very old and in great condition. The details inside are well worth a visit and a few snaps. I was glad to see that it was open to the public because there were a few other churches in Matera that weren’t and that was disappointing. Don’t miss this church when in Matera.
G M (2 years ago)
Simple. Peaceful. Accessible. Probably one of the nicest churches in the town of Matera. If you need to take a break and reflect this is the place.
Matt (5 years ago)
UK: one of the most beautiful churches of Matera, despite its simplicity and the darkness that distinguish it, this remains one of my favorites. To be visited absolutely. ________________________________________________________________________ DE: eine der schönsten Kirchen von Matera, trotz seiner Einfachheit und der Dunkelheit, die es auszeichnen, bleibt dies einer meiner Favoriten. Absolut zu besuchen. ________________________________________________________________________ IT: una delle più belle chiese di Matera, nonostante la sua semplicità e l'oscurità che la contraddistinguono, questa rimane una delle mie preferite. Da visitare assolutamente.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

La Hougue Bie

La Hougue Bie is a Neolithic ritual site which was in use around 3500 BC. Hougue is a Jèrriais/Norman language word meaning a \'mound\' and comes from the Old Norse word haugr. The site consists of 18.6m long passage chamber covered by a 12.2m high mound. The site was first excavated in 1925 by the Société Jersiaise. Fragments of twenty vase supports were found along with the scattered remains of at least eight individuals. Gravegoods, mostly pottery, were also present. At some time in the past, the site had evidently been entered and ransacked.

In Western Europe, it is one of the largest and best preserved passage graves and the most impressive and best preserved monument of Armorican Passage Grave group. Although they are termed \'passage graves\', they were ceremonial sites, whose function was more similar to churches or cathedrals, where burials were incidental.