Matala in Crete: The nostalgic youth.

Yiannis Themelis
Paradise Beaches, Sightseeings
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Matala, were the place of an ancient port of two old romans cities, Festos and Gortys. A community that apparted mainly by poor fichermen but in nowdays has been developped into a moderne touristic place for vacations. This place sets in the southwest in Crete, 4 klm distance from the village of Pitsidia and 65 klm distance from Herakleion. Matalla are constructed in a long beach into Messaras Golf lying in a small and pretty bay.

The Blue color by the mediterrenian sea and the Red of the sun towards the open sky due the sunset provoque a colourfull explosion of strong emotions for visitors.

Specificaly, Matala were the port of Festos during the Minoan Period, furthermore after the destroy of Kommos and the port of Gortys, the capital of Crete in the roman's empire days. The year 220 bc after a revolution, local people occupy Matala back from the romans. Still visible ruins of this ancient city are set in bottom of the sea due a tsunami that has entire sank the city after since that battle . Lots of archaiological escavations have brought in light elements of noble palaces that were established in ancient cities of Festos and Gortys. There is a cave known as ''The Cave of Broutos'' which according to a local legend was the safeplace for the Roman Emperor Broutos after his escape from Rome because of he cause the murder of Julius Cesar.

The extraordinary natural beauty of the place around in the '70s, was the main reason that Matala became the meeting point for the ''hippies generation''. Despite the end of their cultural ideology, this generation has been full by the beauty of the region that oppose at any sense of war desaster.

Additionally, this wonderful bay of Matala considered as one of the best beaches in Crete. The natural caves that have been formed in the site of mountain near the sea have been used as prohestoric residences or religional sacred places although during 1st and 2nd Century A.C. The use of these caves was mainly as dead tombes. These caves mixed by the beach's full of white sand create a natural and peaceful beauty that attracts a lot of tourist accross the world. During '60s the caves were resident of the ''hippies'' culture development. In nowdays these caves are under the protection of Greek Archaiology's Ministrer of Culture.

Koules castle, set in the place of Kastri is one of the views that any visitor worth to visit.  There is also a little orthodox church into a rock mountain in the Name of Holly Mother, Panagia. It looks like a natural catacombe as underground passageway and cemetery, offering protection for the first Christians Martyrs. In the South of Matala you can enjoy the panoramic view by the rock of Godness. This rock metrise the sea and throught years sea waves have been created a natural cave called ''Kouroupi''. This cave provides his safety for wild piegons of the region and for the well known mediteranian seal.

Along the south of beach following the beauty that generously offered by this extraordinary place, you can meet the charmfull beach of ''Red Sand'', a unique place for relax and chillin' out. Enjoy..


Matala Beach first found international fame in the late 1960s & 70s when it became a destination for young travellers during their journeys along the legendary ‘hippie trail’. These visitors would stay at the peaceful village of Matala for months at a time, taking up residence in the ancient caves on the beach. Matala provided an idyllic escape from the increasingly hectic world. It became the temporary home for thousands of young writers, poets, songwriters and travellers all dreaming of a peaceful world.

The international press increased their interest in this unique destination and its young hippie cave community in the early 1970s when songwriter Joni Mitchell took up residence and detailed her cave experiences in the songs on her critically acclaimed ‘Blue’ album.

The local police eventually brought this era to an end in the late 70s by making it illegal for young international travellers to reside in the caves. However, the legend lived on and Matala has been a popular destination ever since for visitors of all ages who are attracted by the cultural heritage.

In June 2011 a book launch party celebrating the unique Matala hippie heritage drew 35,000 visitors to the beach to enjoya weekend of music and art. In June 2012 the weekend attracted 58,000 music and art fans.


About the Author

Yiannis Themelis

I work as a Lawer since 2005, based in Heraclion Crete. Heraclion is not only the place i have been born and lived, but also the history book of my life, where i have spent my youth, have made my first discoveres and spent most of my summers. We all have the traveller image of a person who is visiting a place to see, learn and taste a place in a mature way, but for a kid the travelling experience is translated to playing games, teasing, diving with a mask, yelling with your friends holding a piece of watermellon. 

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