Lato

The ancient city of Lato is 3km from the village of Kritsa. 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. 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 main gate is to the west of the site where a stepped road leads to the agora, or market. On the right were workshops and shops. On the left, the road leads to a ground entrance leading to the main part of the city. 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. The agora is a pentagonal building at the top of the road between two hills. It was not only used for trade but for political and cultural activities as well. Southwest of the agora are the remains of a large temple and seats of a theatre. Near the temple is an altar where a fire burned continuously as a sign of the continuity of the city with its past. The prytaneum (administrative building) and the nobles’ dining hall is behind the theatre area. Lato is one of the best excavated Greek cities in the island.

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