The village of hippies, Matala, is approximately 70 kilometers in the south of Heraclion and is one of the most famous coastal settlements of the southern Crete.
Administratively, the settlement falls under the local community of Pitsidia of the Festos municipality. The residents are mainly occupied by tourism. There are many tourist shops, hotels, rooms to let, cafeterias and taverns in Matala.
Apart from the beach, the caves and the beautiful settlement, the visitor can wander in the eastern side of the village where there are some archaeological buildings. There also some ruins of ancient buildings in the seabed.
When you are tired by the various alternative activities in the area, you can rest admiring the sunset in the Libyan sea and the Paksimadia islands, a few kilometers away.
The beach of Matala lies along the settlement and ends to the famous caves where the hippies lived in the 1970s. Its length is about 250 meters and is pebbly and sandy.
A blue flag has been given in Matala, while various environmental projects run in the area, as that of the protection of the Sea turtle of Greece and Natura 2000.
There are first aid facilities, W.C., showers and sports facilities in the area.
Matala became famous in the 1960s, when some wandering hippies discovered the carved caves and moved in. Many others followed their example and many famous people among them, for example Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Cat Stevens.
During the Greek military junta and after the order of the Metropolite of Gortyna, hippies were expelled from the caves of Matala and, from then, they are desolated. The caves can be visited.
It is said that the caves were probably made in the Roman era in order to be used as tombs.
Matala is related to Greek mythology and, particularly, to the abduction of Europe by Zeus. According to the myth, Europe, a very beautiful woman, was picking up flowers with their friends in a field. Zeus saw her, fell in love with her and, in order to approach her, he was transformed to a white bull. Europe saw the bull, went closer and, after she realized it wasn’t a wild bull, she got on his back. Zeus got in the sea very quickly and swam to Crete. The myth says that they swam and passed through the sea of Matala in order to reach the port of Levinos( where Lentas is today).
Then they walked to the holly plane where Zeus revealed himself and made her a mother of 3 children, while he gave her three gifts, Talws (the guard of Crete), a houndog that never missed its game and a gun that never missed its aim.
Then, Zeus arranged the marriage of Europe with the king of Crete, Asterionas, but they did not have children so they adopted Zeus’s children.
Matala was the seaport of Festos in the Minoan era and of Gortyna in the Roman era.
The boats of Menelaos were wrecked in that area.
The temple of Panagia (“La Madonna di Matala”) is mentioned in Venetian records, in the entrance of which there is the inscription “Wash your head and clean your feet and then enter this holly house”.
Various sports and cultural festivities are organized in Matala. The most famous is the Matala beach festival that takes place every year for 4 days. Visitors from all over the world come to the area, camp and are united under the sounds of music. Various events are also held during the festival.