Saturday, May 19, 2007

The caves of Matala in southern Crete

Matala is a small village with many tourist facilities about 70 km south of Heraklion. The Minoan Palace of Festos is 7 km east of Matala and the harbour of Festos used to be at the nearby Komos in the Minoan period.
There is a nice sandy beach in Matala and it attracts a lot of visitors in the summer months.
Matala has become famous for the artificial caves, carved into the rocks, north of the coast. These caves were first inhabited during the prehistoric period. Tombs found in the caves date from Greek, Roman and Early Christian times.
During the 70's the caves were hosting an international hippie community. That was a cultural shock for the local community, which had met no tourists before the hippies arrived.
The caves of MatalaGreat musicians like Cat Stevens and Joni Mitchell have been here for some time composing beautiful songs about the beauty of the bay of Matala..
Today the entrance to the caves of Matala is free but overnight stay is not allowed. The terrain is rather rough, so avoid slippery shoes. Most of the caves are not deep, so a torchlight won't be necessary.