Some three kilometers from Kritsá lies the ancient Dorian city of Lato. This area owes its name to the goddess Lito (or Lato) who was the mother of Apollo and Artemis. The city state was built in an naturally fortified location controlling the passage from central to eastern Crete. Lato is considered one of the best preserved Classical-Hellinistic cities in Crete.
The visible remains, which are in very good state, belong to the 4th and 3rd c. BC. But from figurines and plaques that were excavated, it was discovered that building started in the 7th c BC. Late Minoan IIIC pottery that was found in the area shows that habitation here goes back at least as far as the 12th c BC. 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. Lato was the birth-place of Nearchos, the admiral of Alexander the Great.
The city was surrounded by a strong wall with gates. After entering the main gate, the street leads up the hill to the agora, with workshops and shops on the right and terraces on the left. There’s also a small open air temple and a large cistern. Other finds include a theatrical area, a great temple, a sanctuary, a temple house and the houses of the Prytaneion.
The inhabitants of Lato became very active politically and diplomatically in the 3rd and 2nd c BC, taking part in the Knossian coalition and made treaties with Gortyna, Lyttos, Miletus and other cities. They were occupied with agriculture, livestock farming, commerce, but also piracy and slave trade, much like the citizens of other Cretan cities at the time. From the top of the hill the views are magnificent, down to both sides.
How to get there:
Lato is a 5 minute drive from Kritsá. There is a sign for Lato in Kritsá; the road passes the gorge. From Agios Nikolaos you can drive to Kritsá en from there to Lato. There is also another road, passing Mesa Lakonion and Chamilion.