Spend Time at the Caves of Matala on Crete
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Crete is one of the largest island in Greece and it is one of the most popular destinations. It is also an incredibly beautiful place with a gorgeous natural environment. There are actually a lot of caves here, and some of them are worth a visit. The Caves of Matala is one of these places. Here’s more information:
About the Caves of Matala
Located 70 km south of Heraklion is the village of Matala, which is the most ancient village in Crete. There is a long and sandy beach at Messara Bay that attracts many tourists during the summer months. The beach is well-known for the artificial caves that were carved into rocks in the steep cliffs the rise above the north side of the beach and bay.
These caves were thought to have been first inhabited during the prehistoric period and were used as dwellings and places of worship. Some of the caves contain carved beds, windows and porches. During the 1st and 2nd centuries, the Caves of Matala were used as tombs. The tombs found date to Greek, Roman, and Early Christian Times.
During the 1970s, the Caves of Matala became a popular destination for the international hippie community. Musicians including Joni Mitchell and Cat Stevens spent time living in the Caves of Matala where they were creatively inspired by the beauty of the area. Joni Mitchell’s 1971 song called “Carey” is about her experiences with hippies while at the Caves of Matala. The Greek film “My Aunt the Hippie” was set at the caves.
While the hippies and musicians found peace and inspiration at the Caves of Matala, the locals were not used to the tourist activities. The reaction to the hippies was strong and with the help of the Bishop of Gortys, the locals were able to drive them out. Many of the hippies remained in Crete, choosing to live in Preveli, the Palm Forest of Vai, and Kapetaniana. In the 1980s, these areas became protected and today, very few people on the island of Crete live the hippie lifestyle. The Caves of Matala are protected by the Archaeological Service.
Spend Time at the Caves of Matala
The view of the Caves of Matala from the beach and bay are a wonderful site to see. The view once you’re at the caves is also breathtaking. To visit the Caves of Matala costs 2 Euros. You will be able to climb and explore the caves, which are fenced off to keep people from living there. Spending the night is not allowed at the caves. You will want to bring a flashlight with you if possible, when visiting the Caves of Matala, so that you can see better. Wear good shoes as you will be climbing and walking a lot.
Matala is located 70 km from Heraklion. Getting around on the island of Crete is easy as there are many transportation options. The bus system is extensive and taxis are widely available. You can also rent a car to get around and explore on your own schedule.
When visiting the Caves of Matala, you will want to visit the beach as well. It’s the perfect way to relax after a day of exploration.
This post was written by Greek Boston