Italy’s Haunted Ghost Town; Craco
Craco, a ghost town and former medieval village, is considered to be older than the underwater ghost town in the beautiful village of Fabbriche di Careggine in the Italian mountains.
This abandoned medieval ghost town can be found in the province of Matera, south of Basilicata, Italy. The settlement occupies a rock formation above the surrounding hills with its architecture neatly built into the landscape.
Perched strategically on top of a 400 meter high cliff, overlooking the arid countryside of southern Italy, this ghost town once provided panoramic views and warnings of potential attackers.
It was abandoned towards the end of the 20th century as a result of natural disasters which made it a tourist attraction and a popular filming location. The city was founded around 540 AD by Greeks who had moved inland from the coast of Basilicata.
Back then, Craco was called “Montedoro”. Tombs that were found there dates back to the 8th century, which suggests that the original settlement was of the Iron Age.
In 1276, a university was established in the town. During the 13th century, Craco became feudal tenure of Muzio Sforza. The population increased from 450 in 1277, to 655 in 1477, and averaged 1,500 in succeeding centuries.
By the 15th century, four large palazzi had developed in the town. 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.
In 1656, a plague struck, with hundreds dying and reducing the number of families in the town. With the end of the civil strife, the greatest difficulty the town faced became environmental and geological.
Being a hilly region with different levels of drainage, the terrain of Craco medieval ghost town was highly unstable which caused manylandslides of natural origin in 1600, 1805, 1857, and 1933.
For many years, the town stood uninhabited. The buildings of this medieval town seemed to have literally been vacated overnight, left to crumble in decay. In 1972 a flood worsened the situation further, preventing a possible repopulation of the historic centre. After the Irpinia earthquake in 1980, the ancient site of Craco was completely abandoned.
Today, Craco is a plundered city and no longer accessible to the public, except by guided tour. While the town has fallen into ruin, several of the buildings, palaces and churches still remain intact with original features. Other than that, the village receives visits from tourists and occasionally, from film producers.
Like other ghost towns covering the Italian countryside, Craco is now the focus of conservation efforts. In 2010, it was added to the Watch List by the World Monuments Fund.
Even though emigration has left Craco eerily uninhabited, life returns to the town during one of the many religious festivals held there paying homage to the Virgin Mary and the statue. Six festivals happen in Craco from May to October.
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