Matala, is a captivating village situated 75 km southwest of Heraklion, Crete, Greece. It is an integral part of the Pitsidia community, nestled within the municipal unit of Tympaki, Faistos municipality, in the Heraklion regional unit.
Matala, renowned for its intriguing caves, has a rich historical past. The artificial caves, dating back to the Neolithic Age, adorn the cliffs of Matala bay. During the Minoan period, Matala served as the port of Phaistos. Around 220 BC, it fell under the occupation of the Gortynians. Later, during the Roman era, Matala transformed into the port of Gortys. While some speculate that the caves were used as tombs, their size suggests they likely served as living spaces, rather than burial grounds. One of these caves, dubbed “Brutospeliana,” is steeped in legend, frequented, according to folklore, by the Roman general Brutus.
Matala’s transformation saw it evolve from a fishing village to a haven for hippies in the 1960s. However, this era was short-lived, as the church and military junta eventually forced the hippies out. Today, Matala has metamorphosed into a bustling tourist destination, drawing visitors primarily through coach tours and summer excursions. The village is now dotted with numerous gift shops and bars, embracing its past during the annual Matala Beach Festival, held for three days every June since 2011. Matala Beach Excursions offer a glimpse into this fascinating history, allowing travelers to explore its caves and the vibrant legacy of its hippie era.