Discover the haunting beauty of Craco, Italy’s abandoned “ghost village.” Perched atop a rocky outcropping, Craco’s silhouette still captures the imagination of those who pass by. The town was first established by the Greeks in the 6th century AD, with evidence of even older settlements dating back to the 8th century BC. Its unique layout is a result of the medieval period, with a Norman watchtower built in the 12th century and palazzi constructed in the following centuries.
Craco’s history is intertwined with the wider region, experiencing both prosperity and struggle. However, it was a series of earthquakes and landslides that ultimately led to the town’s abandonment in 1980. Today, guided tours allow visitors to explore the decaying streets and buildings, complete with hard hats. Up close, the advanced state of decay is evident, with silent towers, rusted balconies, and overgrown weeds at the church of San Nicola.
A few churches, including Santa Maria della Stella, where a statue of the Virgin and Child was discovered, are still maintained. Craco has also gained notoriety as a film set, appearing in Italian productions and Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. As Italy’s birth rate hits its lowest since 1861, Craco serves as a poignant reminder of a once thriving community. Its story began with Greek sailors and ended just a few decades ago with the last suitcase being packed.
To get to Craco, Italy, you can take the following steps:
- Fly to Bari or Naples: The nearest airports to Craco are Bari Karol Wojtyla Airport or Naples International Airport. You can fly to either of these cities and then rent a car or take a bus or train to Craco.
- Take a bus or train: Once you arrive in Bari or Naples, you can take a bus or train to Matera, the nearest city to Craco. From Matera, you can take a taxi or rent a car to reach Craco.
- Rent a car: Renting a car is the most convenient option to get to Craco. This allows you to explore the surrounding areas and reach Craco in about an hour from either Bari or Naples.
- Take a guided tour: Guided tours to Craco are also available from Matera, providing you with a comprehensive experience that includes the history and architecture of the ghost town.
Please note that Craco is an abandoned town and visitors are advised to take caution while exploring the site. It is also recommended to wear appropriate footwear and bring a hat and sunscreen as the site is exposed to the elements.