The history of palazzo viceconte

Palazzo Viceconte is placed in the space corresponding to the square of ancient Matera. Exactly this area, center of the Civita, where the palace now stands, was the main meeting place of the Roman era and along the centuries of Byzantine, Lombard, Saracen and Norman denomination until the 2nd half of the 13th century when the Cathedral was built.

The palace was built by the descendants of Nicola Venusio. The history of this character, who arrived in Matera in the 2nd half of the 15th century, is closely intertwined with the story of the Turks taking Otranto in 1480. Born around 1435, a young man sent to Constantinople by the family, originally from Amalfi, to take care of commercial affairs in connection with Venetian and Genoese merchants, he found himself in that city during the siege and the subsequent conquest by Sultan Mohammed II in 1453. Taken prisoner, he was kept in slavery until 1460, when, thanks to a daring escape, he joined the army of Giorgio Castriota Scanderbeg the Albanian hero who had been fighting for several years against the Turkish armies. He held logistic and administrative positions in the events of the Turkish-Albanian war until the death of Giorgio Castriota in 1468. He subsequently resided to Naples following the wife of Scanderbeg and his son Giovanni. During the war campaign with the Albanians of Giorgio Castriota against the Turks he had had the opportunity to get in touch with the future leader of the Turkish expedition who occupied Otranto, Ahmed Pascià, with whom a heavy personal enmity had materialized. After the conquest of Otranto by Turks, following the requests for help from the subjects by the king of Naples Ferdinando and his eldest son Alfonso, duke of Calabria, Nicola Venusio, also driven by his personal reasons, armed at his own expense a company of soldiers and from Matera joined the expedition that led to the liberation of Otranto from the Turks. Nicola Venusio earned the gratitude of the Neapolitan court and this constituted an important base for the future ascent of his family's fortunes.

The construction of the building began in the 2nd half of the 1500s, a century or so after the events in Otranto. The northwest part of the building was first built. Later, on the opposite side, the private chapel dedicated to the Madonna dei Sette Dolori was built in the mid-17th century. Immediately afterwards the main façade of the building was completed by incorporating the two previous buildings and extending the building on the east side. The building thus assumed the appearance of a building with an inner courtyard open on the north side. In the mid-eighteenth century the north wing was added so as to join the various parts of the building which was then equipped with a closed internal courtyard. In 1749, the Venusio acquired the fief and the title of baron of Turi from the Moles family which had contracted a strong debt with them. The interest of the family then moved towards Turi, where they will dedicate themselves to the enhancement of the existing building there. In 1797, Giuseppe Venusio was elevated to the title of marquis of Turi by King Ferdinando IV. From the 2nd half of the 19th century the palace suffered a slow decline until it was in 1950 it was sold by the ancient owners. In the following decades the deterioration increased and also the building underwent serious tampering and mutilation. After 1994, purchased by the current owners, the Viceconte family, the building was restored and brought back to its original state.