This square was once known as Piazza Maggiore. During the C14th, it served as the market square, surrounded by stores, inns and workshops, until 1550 when it became home to the Governor’s offices, the city jails and the town hall or sedile.
The Palazzo del Sedile was built by Archbishop Saraceno in 1540 as the headquarters for the municipal meetings of the “town university”. It was altered and refurbished in 1779, and still preserves much of its original appearance today. Its shape is unusual: the great entrance archway is encircled with niches containing terracotta statues representing the four cardinal virtues of a good government: Justice, Fortitude, Prudence and Temperance, and surmounted by two small Rococo-style towers: the left one is embellished with a fine sundial and the right with a clock. Keeping a symbolic watch over the city from above are the inevitable statues of Matera’s patron saints, St Eustachius and Maria Santissima della Bruna. The local authority offices were in the building until 1944, and it is now home to the Egidio Romualdo Duni National Conservatoire (Conservatorio Nazionale), after the composer of the same name who came from Matera.
There is now a state-of-the art auditorium in the basement of the building, where prestigious musical events and top level concerts are held.