Matala, ancient Matelon, were a port of Phaestus and Gortys and is well known for the carved caves, which were Grecoroman tombs. The cape south of Matala has been identified as the Cape Nysos and the location where the ships of Menelaus were wrecked (Odyssey).
The archaeological site near the village, the kernel of the ancient town, was excavated in the 1980s and brought to light large buildings and workshops of metallurgy, pottery, woodworking, etc. The town seems that flourished from the 6th BC until the 7th AD century, but was never abandoned.
Southeast of the village there are the ruins of an ancient temple and, near the beach a marble urn was found. The acropolis of the town was located on an adjacent hilltop.