Located on the only outlet of the Basilicata region on the Tyrrhenian Sea, Maratea is a beautiful and popular seaside resort, that overlooks the Gulf of Policastro. The city is also known with its nickname "the pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea." With a high cliff coastline, rich of caves, inlets and coves, the name derives, according to some, from the famous Greek town of Marathon, and according to others, Thea Maris, goddess of the sea.
The area was inhabited since the Paleolithic Ages and in the VI century b.C., Maratea became part of the Magna Greece until in 281 b.C. when it was conquered by the Romans.
In the late medieval period, the high lands of Maratea, on the summit of Mount St. Biagio, acquired major importance. Infact in this specific location , around the VII - VIII century. AD, small communities Basilian monks settled in and later, they created a small fortified centre called Maratea Superiore, today known as "Castle", because of its high location, which provided to its inhabitants a formidable natural defense.
The city suffered during the later conquests of the Lombard, Norman, Angevin and Aragons.
Maratea proposes a lot of archaeological sites and is rich in its millennial past, starting from those discovered near the promontory called "Capo La Timpa" and those of Roman times, concentrated near the Island of Santo Janni, where a large deposit of amphorae and anchors of this period was discovered.
Date back to the Middle Ages, the Castle Castrocucco, built over a rocky ridge, on the ruins of the ancient village of the castle, set in a wilderness, is located just below the present statue of Christ the Redeemer. This artwork is second in size only to the one in Rio de Janeiro, 22 meters high and was sculpted by Bruno Innocenti and placed at the top of an impressive stone staircase, which offers a spectacular view of the entire coast of Maratea.
The Basilica of San Biagio, built between the VI and VII centuries is the place where, according to tradition, the temple of the goddess Minerva stood. It features a portico with three arches with a statue of St. Blaise located in a niche at the centre of the tympani. Rebuilt in Baroque style in the XVIII century, inside is preserved in a fine XV century fresco of the Madonna and Child, a bas-relief of the Annunciation of the XVII century, a shrine of the XVI century and a XVII century organ.
Not to miss: the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore (XII century), the Church of the Annunciation (XVI century), the Church of San Vito (XI century), the Church of St. Peter (XIII-XIV century), the Church of Calvary (XV century), the Church of San Francesco di Paola (XVIII century), the Immaculate Conception Church (XVII century) and St. Anne's Church (XIV century).
Between the XVI and the XVII century six watchtowers were built along the coast to protect Maratea from the pirate raids: the Torre of Crivi, the Torre of Acquafredda, the Torre Santavenere, the Torre Apprezzami l'Asino, the Torre di Filocaio and the Torre Caina.