Touring in Crete – Gortyna, Matala, Phaistus, Chania, Samaria Gorge
Crete was home to some early inhabitants in the neo-lithic (new stone age) that progressed to the Minoans in the bronze age. The Minoans were very advanced as big regional traders, superb architects, etc. Some big earthquakes around 1700 BC set them back but they rebuilt and some type of calamity (perhaps earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, who knows), hit them around 1450 BC and apparently the society collapsed. Subsequently apostle St. Titus founded the first christian church at this location.
Crete has many ruins worth seeing. Gortyna is one of the prominent ruins that moves through Minoan, Roman and other times. We stopped in Matala, on the south side of Crete, for lunch. Matala is an old beachfront hippie refuge. Back in the age of hippie time, the hippies took up residence in the caves adjacent to the beach and practiced their jewelry making and other arts. Some still reside there although it appears they have vacated the caves for some better accommodations. A pretty little beach town and a great place for a beachfront lunch.
The southern courntryside is pretty, but being sparse on rain, if it is not irrigated it doesn’t grow nice crops. Lots of olive trees similar to what we saw in much of mainland Greece. We wrapped our history lesson up for the day with a visit to Phaistus, a huge royal palace ruin dating back to Minoan times. The ruins include some remarkably modern architectural features and great views of Mt. Ida, the highest peak in Crete. Very impressive site and worth the visit.