The archaeological site of Lato in eastern Crete contains the ruins of the ancient city which once dominated this area.
History of Lato
Lato was a city state, believed to have been built by the Dorians in a defensible position between two peaks and flourished during the Hellenic period. Archaeologists are not entirely sure when the city dates from, the majority of the ruins are Dorian (5th and 4th centuries BC), hence why this is generally who its construction is attributed to.
Lato was also the birthplace of Nearchos, the admiral of Alexander the Great. It’s believed the city was named after the goddess Leto, who some believed was the mother of Artemis and Apollo. By the time of the rise of Rome, the city’s harbour to the east soon came to be of more prominence than the original settlement and slowly the institutions and administrative centre of the settlement were moved there, leaving the original city to slowly decline.
The city was destroyed around 200BC, but its port remained intact. Excavations began here around the turn of the 20th century, and lasted until the 1970s.
Today the site is quite well preserved and contains the remains of houses, the agora, temples, ancient cisterns, basements, a theatre and latter threshing floor. The site has not been troubled by modern restorations and therefore contrasts very well with more open construction of Knossos and Malia.
An interesting site, Lato is well worth a visit if you’re in the area and also offers excellent views.
Getting to Lato
The Ancient City of Lato is towards the easterly end of Crete, a few kilometres inland from the coast. You’ll need a car to get there: it’s a half hour drive or so from Malia and buses stop at Kritsa, 3km away.
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