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the Hippie caves of Matala

Matala is a Greek village on the island of Crete, located on the banks of the Libyan Sea, within the municipality of Festo and about 70 km south of Heraklion  ( Greece ) .The site was already populated during the Neolithic era, it is at this time that artificial caves were dug in the cliff of the Bay of Matala.

During the Minoan period, Matala was the port of the city of Phaistos. In 220 BC BC, the village was occupied by the Gortynians and during the Roman period, Matala served as a port. In the first and second centuries BC, the caves were used as vaults; one of them is now called Brutospeliana in homage (according to the legend) to the Roman general Brutus.
Subsequently, Matala became a fishing village. At present, the village lives mainly from tourism.

Mythology : According to Greek mythology, Matala was the place where Zeus in the form of a bull transported the  princess Europe. Then he turned into an eagle and transferred it further to Gortyna.

Today..It is a tourist place that began to become popular as a result of the occupation of the sandstone caves of the cliffs by numerous groups of hippies from the 1960s.

In the  60s, hippies from all over the world (including many young US citizens who refused to participate in the Vietnam War) settled in the Neolithic cave dwellings and founded a large community there. After one of the caves collapsed and a person died in it, the hippies were expelled from the caves. Currently, the caves are fenced, but tourists can visit them.
Canadian singer Joni Mitchell immortalized this period in her song “Carey2” (1971).Matala plays an important role in David Bielmann’s novel Escape a Dead, which takes place in the 1960s.
In Command & Conquer: Generals Zero Hour, the USS Ronald Reagan, along with the carrier support group docked in Matala and the naval base on the island, is destroyed by GLA forces .

Access : Coordinates: 34.994722, 24.749167 / There are regular buses from Heraklion.

Highlights :

  • Matala Beach : A wonderful sandy beach 300m length, with fine pebbles and crystal clear deep waters. with numerous restaurants around with affordable prices. The beach has € 2 paid parking and is usually full.

Activities : sightseeing , Ideal for nostalgic hippies / photo opportunities / trekking / bathing, and visiting the caves with primitive Roman tombs

Go next : South of Matala is the nudist beach Kokkini Ammos (“Red Beach”), a reddish fine-grained sandy beach accessible only by a steep, narrow footpath / Phaistos, the second most important palace of the Minoans. / Asterousia Mountains / Heraklion

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