South of Crete: Ancient Gortys & Famous Beach of Matala


Drive southbound through the most picturesque landscape of central Crete to visit the most ancient Monastery of Crete – Moni Paliani. On the territory of the Monastery there is a very old myrtle tree. This specific myrtle is considered sacred (Holy Myrtle). Inside the trunk of the Holy Myrtle, as they say, is believed to be the icon of Panagia Mirtidiotissa Virgin Mary of Myrtle).
Next stop of our journey is the ancient town of Gortys. Ancient Gortys used to be one of the most powerful cities of historic and prehistoric times. It is well known for its Law Code carved on stone blocks discovered in the Odeum.
Leaving Gortys we are heading to the Monastery of Panagia Kaliviani. It dates back to the 2nd Byzantine period, and it’s dedicated to Virgin Mary. The monastery also houses a girls’ orphanage established in 1958.
The tour continues southbound to the coastal village of Matala the ancient port of Gortys and Phaistos where lunch will take place (optional). Matala features one of the best beaches in Crete with artificial caves carved into the north face of the coast. In prehistoric times the caves were used as tombs while during the 60’s the caves hosted a hippie commune!