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The archaeological site of Lato on Crete
Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta
Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta

Nederlands map of Crete The ancient Doric city of Lato is situated in a beautiful natural place, about 4 km north of the village Kritsa. You can reach the village over a narrow but good asphalt road that leads through the olive groves, than take the exit and go to the parking lot. Now you take the stairs up to the site. A small entrance fee applies (2 euro in 2010, but on the day we were there it was free). Opening hours are from 8.00 to 20.00 (according to the sign). On Mondays and public holidays the site is closed (just like any other archaeological sites by the way).

Lato was founded in the 8th century BC by the Dorians and it was built between two hills. The city is named after Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis, but the main goddess that was worshiped here was Eileithyia (the goddess of fertility and birth). This goddess is also depicted on the coins that were minted in the city. Lato is also the birthplace of Nearchos, the famous admiral of Alexander the Great.

More about the archaeological site of Lato on Crete
Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta
Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta

In the 5th century BC, the city flourished. Most of the buildings and walls that you can see now date from the 5th and 4th centuries BC. The city of Lato was an important settlement and had prepared itself for external attacks. You can see that the walls of the city were built of huge stones that fit together well. Lato was in an ongoing dispute with the nearby city Olous (the remnants of this city are now under the water near the village of Elounda). The main gate is made of huge blocks of sandstone. There are remnants of houses, shops, temples, workshops, reservoirs and a theater. Here and there in the streets are big stone utensils or pieces of ancient columns. From just about the third century BC, the importance of Lato slowly decreased at the expense of its former port, the city of Lato Etera (present Agios Nikolaos). The administrative center of Lato was moved to the port and slowly to the city of Lato was abandoned. Around 200 BC the city of Lato was destroyed. The port of Lato tham became an important city and it flourished under the Roman rule.

Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta
Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta

At the site of Lato there is a sign with a map of the city, but to be honest, I quickly lost the overview and it was sometimes just a guess where I was looking at. However, it was easy to recognize the round cistern (water storage) and the thick city walls. When you reach the excavation above you see the agora (market place) and the center of the city of Lato. There is also a temple here. Probably also performances were held at the agora and it also served as a theater. The steps on the north side were probably used as seats. South of the agora are the large stone blocks of a temple and a large altar. If you continue climbing up then you have a truly magnificent view over the countryside and you can even see the Gulf of Mirabello and the city of Agios Nikolaos.

Hans Huisman, 2017
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