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Province / Metropolitan city
Matera (MT)

391 m (1,283 ft)

76 km²

Dialling code


Craco Peschiera


Postal code

Patron saint
Saint Nicholas

Craco Craco Wikipedia

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Craco the ghost town a drone s view matera2019

Craco is a ghost town and comune in the Province of Matera, in the southern Italian region of Basilicata.


Craco Craco The Abandoned Medieval Ghost Town of Italy Ancient Origins

The old town was abandoned due to natural disasters. The abandonment has made Craco a tourist attraction and a popular filming location. In 2010, Craco has been included in the watch list of the World Monuments Fund.

Craco Craco coming alive on film Italian Ways

Craco the most beautiful abandoned town


Craco Craco Map Basilicata Italy Mapcarta

Craco is about 40 kilometres (25 mi) inland from the Gulf of Taranto at the instep of the “boot” of Italy. It is typical of the hill towns of the region with mildly undulating shapes and the lands surrounding it sown with wheat. The town was built on a very steep summit for defensive reasons, giving it a stark and striking appearance and distinguishing it from the surrounding land, which is characterized by soft shapes.

Craco whenonearthnetwpcontentuploads201402cracoi

The centre, built on the highest side of the town, faces a ridge which runs steeply to the southwest, where newer buildings exist. The town sits atop a 400-metre (1,300 ft) cliff that overlooks the Cavone River valley. Throughout the area are many vegetation-less mounds called calanchi (badlands) formed by intensive erosion.


Craco Craco Medieval Ghost Town by Minister of Culture Findery

Around 540 BC, the area was called Montedoro and inhabited by Greeks who moved inland from the coastal town of Metaponto. Tombs have been found dating from the 8th century BC, suggesting the original settlement dates back to then. The town’s name can be dated to 1060 AD, when the land was the possession of Arnaldo, Archbishop of Tricarico, who called the area Graculum, which means in Latin "little plowed field". This long association of the Church with the town had a great influence on the inhabitants.

From 1154 to 1168, the control of the village passed to the nobleman Eberto, probably of Norman origin, who established the first feudal control over the town. Then in 1179, Roberto of Pietrapertosa became the landlord of Craco. Under Frederick II, Craco was an important military center and the Castle Tower became a prison.

In 1276, a university was established in town. During the 13th century, Craco became feudal tenure of Muzio Sforza. The population increased from 450 (1277), to 655 (1477), to 1,718 (1532), until reaching 2,590 in 1561; and averaged 1,500 in succeeding centuries. By the 15th century, four large palazzi had developed in the town: Palazzo Maronna near the tower, Palazzo Grossi near the big church, Palazzo Carbone on the Rigirones property, and Palazzo Simonetti. During 1656, a plague struck, with hundreds dying and reducing the number of families in the town.

By 1799, with the proclamation of the Parthenopean Republic, the townspeople overthrew the Bourbon feudal system. Innocenzo De Cesare returned to Naples, where he had studied, and promoted an independent municipality. The republican revolution lasted few months and Craco returned under the Bourbon monarchy. Subsequently, the town fell under the control of the Napoleonic occupation. Bands of brigands, supported by the Bourbon government in exile, attacked Craco on July 18, 1807, plundering and killing the pro-French notables.

By 1815, the town was large enough to divide it into two districts: Torrevecchia, the highest area adjacent to the castle and tower; and Quarter della Chiesa Madre, the area adjacent to San Nicola’s Church. After the unification of Italy, in 1861 Craco was conquered by the bands of brigands headed by Carmine Crocco.

With the end of the civil strife, the greatest difficulty the town faced became environmental and geological. From 1892 to 1922, over 1,300 Crachesi migrated to North America mainly due to poor agricultural conditions. In 1963, Craco began to be evacuated due to a landslide and the inhabitants moved to the valley of Craco Peschiera. The landslide seems to have been provoked by works of infrastructure, sewer and water systems. In 1972 a flood worsened the situation further, preventing a possible repopulation of the historic center. After the earthquake in 1980, the ancient site of Craco was completely abandoned.

In 2007, the descendants of the immigrants of Craco in the United States formed the Craco Society.


Because of its unique and particular landscape, Craco has been the setting of many movies. In The Passion of The Christ (2004) by Mel Gibson, Craco is the town that can be seen in the scene of the hanging of Judas.

Other films shot in the ghost town include:

  • La lupa (1953), by Alberto Lattuada
  • Christ Stopped at Eboli (1979), by Francesco Rosi
  • Three Brothers (1981), by Francesco Rosi
  • King David (1985), by Bruce Beresford
  • Saving Grace (1986), by Robert M. Young
  • The Sun Also Shines at Night (1990), by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani
  • The Nymph (1996), by Lina Wertmüller
  • The Big Question (2004), by Francesco Cabras and Alberto Molinari
  • The Nativity Story (2006), by Catherine Hardwicke
  • Quantum of Solace (2008), by Marc Forster
  • Basilicata Coast to Coast (2010), by Rocco Papaleo
  • Murder in the Dark (2013), by Dagen Merrill
  • Television

  • The ancient site has been one of the filming sets for the Italian TV series Classe di ferro (1989-1991), by Bruno Corbucci.
  • Craco has been chosen among the locations for the Brazilian telenovela O Rei do Gado (1996-1997), directed by Luiz Fernando Carvalho.
  • In 2015 the ghost town has been the setting for a Japanese Pepsi commercial.
  • Music

  • French band Ödland filmed at Craco the video clip for the song "Santa Lucia", from the album Sankta Lucia (2011).
  • German pianist Hauschka composed the song "Craco" about the ghost town, from the album Abandoned City (2014).
  • Other

  • Director David O. Russell's maternal grandfather was originally from Craco.
  • References

    Craco Wikipedia

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