The Archaeological site of Lato is a classical site located in the eastern mountains of Crete and is considered one of the most significant archaeological wonders of the island during the Hellenistic times. The city of Lato was one of the most powerful ancient cities of Crete. The city relics are located 3 kilometres from the Kritsa village and 10 kilometres away from the town of Agios Nikolaos. The city consists of the remnants of buildings, houses and various structures that once brought the city to its power. The Doric city is built overseeing Mirabello Bay. The city-state of Lato is well-preserved and is perfect for visitors looking for a captivating hilltop experience.
What is the history of the Lato Archaeological Site?
Lato is derived from the name of Apollo’s mother, Leto, and is the birthplace of Alexander the Great. The ancient city of Lato already existed before the Dorians came, and it is located between two hills that are meant to strengthen and protect the city from invaders. In the 2nd century B.C., Lato had taken over the towns of Istron and Hierapytna, as well as the city of Olous causing disagreement regarding the placement of the western and eastern borders. Later on, it caused adjacent areas to be completely abandoned and damaged. The city experienced destruction and its ruins are proof of its mighty existence.
How was the Lato Archaeological Site constructed?
The site was built on a towering point measuring 300 to 400 metres above sea level and was strengthened by circuit walls. With the location so high up the mountains, terraces were built to become more accessible. Most ancient structures that can be seen are houses, and their architecture was straightforward, consisting only of two square rooms with a fireplace. Underground cisterns were constructed for the collection and filtration of rainwater for the needs of the citizens. Industrial centres were also identified on the southern side of the street, while private houses and walled towers were located north.
What are the important monuments in Lato?
Small portions of the city of Lato have been excavated in recent times, consisting of large sanctuaries, city gates, religious dwellings, administrative buildings, and the Agora. Listed below are the significant monuments in Lato.
- The Agora. An open space that accommodates various activities held within the city and is considered the centre of business, governmental and social lives of the residents.
- The Temple. South of the Agora are the preserved ruins of the temple of Lato, where a cult statue was placed.
- The Prytaneion. A structural complex used for entertainment and theatre. The Prytaneion can almost accompany 80 persons and may also be used for public symposiums.
1. The Temple
The temple was built in the late 4th century B.C. and is primarily used to worship the gods and used to store offerings. The temple was built with a square interior and an entrance hall to the east. Inside, a statue of a deity with unclear inscriptions can be found and in front of the temple, a small altar was placed.
2. The “Agora”
The Agora is a large flat area used for meeting places for different events. It is considered to be the city’s designated space where citizens could freely gather to hear announcements, and propaganda, the Agora also served as a marketplace. The area includes a deep cistern and a single chamber with many sculptures coming from the 6th century B.C.
3. The Prytaneion
The Prytaneion is a monumental venue, having seven parts separated by tightly-closed staircases. The place can handle almost 80 people and is primarily used for public events, gatherings and watching ancient performances. In the central area of the Prytaneion, a fireplace can be seen that burns non-stop, every day and night. The Prytaneion is also the place where nobles of the ancient city dined and conducted their meetings. On the northside of the monument, the archives of the city are stored in two rooms.
How was the Lato Archaeological Site preserved?
The Archaeological site of Lato is maintained due to its terrestrial placement, situated in high hills and height above sea levels. The site is built with huge, strong stone blocks which ensure sturdy protection against strong winds and harsh climates. Aside from that, the locals also contribute to preserving it by not beating the place down.
What is the contribution of Lato Archaeological Site to Crete Tourism?
Greece has become one of the most wonderful global tourist destinations to date. Its cities are bustling with tourists day and night, and the islands are also part of that. The island of Crete is one of the country’s powerhouses when it comes to magnificent beaches and historical sites. With its diverse and cultural land packed with historical identity, visiting the island is more than just a typical vacation. International air travel in Crete by 2021 is 2.8 million, much greater than before the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lato Archaeological site is historically rich in ancient structures and ruins that tourists may want to visit.
Can you rent a car to get to the Lato Archaeological Site?
Yes. One can rent a car to get to the Archaeological site. Although public transportation is available, it is a much better option to have a car to freely explore the greatness of the archaeological site.
What are the factors to consider before renting a car in Crete?
Listed below are the factors to put in mind before renting a car in Crete.
- Driver’s age. The minimum requirement of the driver’s age is 21.
- Driver’s Licence. One must have a driver’s licence when renting a car in Crete, and it must be at least one year from the date of its issuance. For international travellers, an international driver’s licence is required.
- Liability. The renters are liable for the loss and damage of the vehicle.
- Extra costs. Renters must be aware of the hidden and extra costs that some agencies charge.
How much does a car rental in Crete cost?
Car rentals depend on the type of car, how many days it will be used, and the number of passengers. Car rentals in Crete start from €18 per day for a 4-seater economy-type car. For individuals looking for vehicles that can accommodate 5-9 persons, there are options ranging from SUVs, minibuses, and vans. Aside from that, convertibles are also available for rent starting from €49 per day.
Are kids allowed at the Lato Archaeological Site?
Yes. Kids are allowed at the Lato Archaeological site. The island of Crete is diverse and filled with majestic places, from beaches to landmarks that both adults and kids enjoy. The archaeological site is one of the fun places in Crete to take the kids to because of its large area and vibrant scenery that is full of historical stories that can be a worthwhile learning experience.