June 12, 2011

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Hippie reunion in Matala Crete (VIDEO)

The first ever Hippies reunion is currently underway in Matala Crete. The small village on the south coast of Crete is seeing a record number of visitors, with an estimated 7000 on the first day of the festival. Hippies from the four corners of the earth arrived here on Friday for four days of 70s fun filled activities. 

The feeling of freedom, the beautiful beach, the welcoming bay and the azure waters formed the ideal hippie scene. At Matala they found the place where they could express themselves, enjoy free love and create.

Imagine the culture shock of the inhabitants of Matala in the Sixties and Seventies, living next to the hippies with their liberated lifestyle - especially considering that Cretans in this then-remote corner of the island had probably never seen a tourist before. Local reaction was organised by the Bishop of Gortys, who drove the hippies out. However, many remained in Crete and sought refuge in remote areas such as Kapetaniana, the palm forest of Vai on the east coast of the island and Preveli.

 This went on until the 1980s, when the state decided to protect the fragile ecosystems of Vai and Preveli, declaring them protected areas. Today a few people continue to live the hippie lifestyle in Crete, on Disko beach in Lendas.

The caves are considered to date back to Neolithic age, and the first dwellers are credited with making them. During the Minoan civilisation Matala was a port. However, after the collapse of Minoan era it was invaded by Romans who used the caves they found here as tombs, of all other places...

Today, you can climb the rocks, explore the caves, and marvel at all the different purposes this tiny bay had over the ages. The rocks further from the beach are perfect to dive into the sea, and you also get a great view of the rocks and caves from the sea as well.

Visiting the caves of Matala is free, although there used to be an entrance fee. The caves have been fenced off and are protected by the Archaeological Service, while nobody is allowed to live or camp out there. 

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