The Lucanians took refuge here after one of their cities was destroyed by the Romans in the 3rd century BC. The city was occupied by the Longobards in the Middle Ages, and after the Norman conquest it was the capital of a count's domain. It was a royal city under the rule of the Swabians, but lost its independence to Charles 1st of Anjou.
In 1807 it replaced Matera as the capital of Basilicata. Unfortunately, during the centuries Potenza was destroyed by many strong earthquakes and with it also many traces of its history.