Travelling south through the pass of Vourvouliti, we reach Gortys (Gortyn or Gortyna), one of the most extensive archaeological sites of Crete.
Gortys the Roman capital of Crete was first inhabited around 3200 BC and was a flourishing Minoan town between 1600-1100 BC. You’ll see the church of St Titus, the Odeon, the room of the Law Code of Gortys and of course the plane of Zeus and Europa.
Leaving Gortys heading south, we stop at the Monastery of Panagia Kaliviani. It dates back to the 2nd Byzantine period, and it’s dedicated to the Virgin Mary, since an old small icon of the Annunciation of the Holy Mother, was miraculously found there (the icon can be found today in the new chapel). The monastery also houses a girl’s orphanage established in 1958.
Passing the villages of Mires and Tympaki we reach the South Coast and the small fishing village of Matala with its beautiful beach. Here you have time for lunch, swim in the clear sparkling water, sunbathe on the golden sand and explore the pre-historic caves in the cliffs on the beach, that were once the homes of the early Christians on the island. During the 60’s and 70’s the caves hosted an international Hippie’s community known worldwide.