Dating as far back as the period of the Punic Wars, Matera sheltered the fugitives of Metapontum and Heraclea. According to some people, Matera, which used to be part of Apulia, was probably founded in 251 BC by Metello, a Roman consul. In time, after the succession of various rulers, the "Tramontanos" came to reign by investiture on behalf of Ferdinando of Aragona.
On December 29th, 1514 during a popular uprising, Count Giovanni Carlo Tramontano was killed because of his cruelty towards the peasants. Matera was the capital of the region from 1663 to 1806, when Joseph Bonaparte transferred this prestigious role to the town of Potenza. Matera has been the residence of the archbishop and capital of the province since 1926.