Matera is famous for its rock churches, including the complex that includes Madonna delle Virtù and San Nicola dei Greci.
The church of San Nicola dei Greci is a crypt accessed through a staircase connecting the Monastery and the church of Madonna delle Virtù.
The crypt has an eastern setting with typical scansions of the Byzantine liturgy, such as a single nave for the faithful, an iconostasis that delimits the area reserved for the clergy, and a body with two aisles ending with two presbyterial apses.
Still visible is the ambo carved from the rock adjacent to the remaining part of the church on the left.
In the eighteenth century, the vault of the church collapsed, irreversibly corrupting the original layout of the structure.
Also noteworthy are the barbaric tombs that open along the floor of the right nave and on the upper platform, testifying to the cemetery use of the area in the medieval age.
The area occupied by the church of San Nicola dei Greci is of considerable importance also for the archaeological finds that have been discovered there.
These latter are fundamental evidence for the reading of the local settlement.
The church of Madonna delle Virtù, accessed through a staircase connecting the Monastery and the church, also has an eastern setting with typical scansions of the Byzantine liturgy.
The crypt gains importance mainly for the survival of important frescoes, which, despite the insult of time and the continuous erosion of the rock walls, remain to testify to the succession, in different eras, of local taste and culture.
The frescoes confirm the Byzantine character of the crypt. Among the most important and well-preserved is the frescoed "triptich" of Saints Nicola, Barbara, and Pantaleone, dating back to the thirteenth century, and the Crucifixion with the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist, from the fourteenth century.
In conclusion, the rock churches of Matera, such as Madonna delle Virtù and San Nicola dei Greci, offer a unique experience for history and art lovers, with their frescoes and archaeological finds that tell the story and culture of the territory.