Matala is a safe natural harbour on the Bay of Messara, blessed with a gently sweeping sand and pebble beach, the place in legend where Zeus swam ashore in the guise of a bull with Europa on his back. Many people make this village their base for Cretan holidays, as it is so central on the south coast, and away from the over-development of the north coast. The beach is 250m long and 45m wide.
Phaistos was one of the most important centres of Minoan civilization, and the most wealthy and powerful city in southern Crete. It was inhabited from the Neolithic period until the foundation and development of the Minoan palaces in the 15th century B.C.
This wonderful excursion takes you to the heart of the island, crossing the fertile plain of Messara up to Gortys, the ancient Roman capital of Crete.
Here you will visit the Odeon, the Roman Amphitheatre and the Early Christian Basilica (the first on the island), dedicated to St. Titus, you can also see the inclusion of ancient Greek law code dating back to 450 a. C.
The next stop is the archaeological site of Phaistos, the Minoan palace site (built on top of a hill) of King Rhadamanthus, brother of the famous Minos; the palace, second in importance to that of Knossos, as well as the political center of the region , was also the reference point of economy and religion. Archaeologists have identified an earthquake as the cause of destruction.
You will then continue to Matala, the ancient port of Phaistos and Gortys. Situated on the Libyan Sea, with crystal clear water, offers a spectacular visit to the artificial caves, carved into the rock already during the Neolithic Ages. The caves were once used as secret tombs or churches, and, more recently, as temporary housing by the “hippies” during the ’60s and ’70s.