Directly after the town sign “Kritsa” a signpost shows right to the ancient site of Lato. The 3km long road passes through olive groves with many centuries old olive trees winding up to the entrance gate. I arrived here at 09.30 clock in the morning, and was (how beautiful!) for about 1 hour the only visitor (admittedly it was already October).
It’s as if Cyclops Hand applied here
Immediately after the entrance a path leads up the hill, and one’s first look then falls on huge blocks of stone, which clearly point to the Doric rhythm of the city, and it is as if Cyclops Hand applied here.
The Dorians built the city in the seventh century B.C. This area owes its name to the goddess Lito (or Lato) who was the mother of Apollo and Artemis. The walls and buildings visible today, however, date mainly from the fourth and fifth centuries B.C. Towers and two acropolis fortified Lato. It was one of the strongest cities on Crete. Ancient Lato was destroyed about 200 B.C.
During the Roman times its port, Lato Etera at the side of Agios Nikolaos, became an important city, the administrative centre was transferred there by the middle of the 2nd century A.D. and Lato was subsequently abandoned.
Ancient Lato was the birth-place of Nearchos, the admiral of Alexander the Great.
The centre of the town is at the top of the hill and from here the view down to Lato’s ancient port, Agios Nikolaos, is magnificent. Lato is one of the best excavated Greek cities in the island.
Ground plans of the ancient city Lato
(as given by the Greek ministry of culture) Print the ground plan
You might be also interested in the following sites, just a few minutes drive away: