Lato Ancient City

Lato Ancient City is one of Crete’s best-preserved non-Minoan ancient sites. It was founded by the Dorians in the 7th century BC. Lato reached its peak in the 3rd century BC, but was slowly abandoned. Its administrative centre had moved its port to present-day Agios Nikolaos. The city was presumably named after the Goddess Leto, Apollo and Artemis’ mother. Lato Ancient City ruins were first noted by 19th-century travellers. Their identification and dates remained unclear. Lato Ancient City was built in a highly defensible location. It was protected by a strong circuit wall. The slopes of the mountain were terraced to make it easier to build all the necessary structures. Lato was an ancient mountain city built on a saddle between two hills. The most important monuments of the site are the Fortified City, The Temple, The “Agora”, and The Prytaneion. To access the ancient city, one needs to take a path from the entrance of the site leading to the main gate. Most of the visible structures that remain are houses. The main street consists of steps that lead from the gate to a large, flat area in between the site’s two peaks.

Today, Ancient Lato City is an archaeological site that is well worth visiting. It is set in an enchanting landscape overlooking the Gulf of Mirabello. When one enters the site, the first noticeable structure is the well-preserved, impressive gates. Climb up the hill and discover a series of spaces that once housed workshops, houses and the city’s “Agora”. One can visit the site by hiking, there are routes available in the area for adventurous hikers. Tourists who want a laid-back tour going to Lato Ancient City must rent a vehicle. Car rental is very prominent on the island of Crete. There are several car rental companies that offer the best services and reasonable prices. Car Rental Crete offers a variety of vehicles to choose from. A larger group of tourists may choose a spacious SUV for comfort. While solo travellers or couples may opt for a smaller car. One must first know all the necessary things before renting a car. A valid driving licence for at least 12 months is required. The driver’s minimum age to rent a car is 21 years old. Insurance is important for the driver’s protection. A credit or debit card with the driver’s name must also be presented when renting a car in Crete. Customers who wish to avail of a car rental service can book online for convenience.

What is the history of Lato Ancient City?

The history of Lato Ancient City is rich. The Dorian city-state was built in a strategic position overlooking Mirabello Bay between two peaks. These two peaks became acropolises to the city. The ruins date mainly from the Dorian period, between the 4th and 5th centuries BCE. The city was named after the Goddess Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis. Although, Eileithyia was the main Goddess worshipped in the city. Before the end of the 3rd century BC, the people of Lato joined the League of the Cretan Cities and shared the same laws.

What are the important monuments in Lato?

Listed below are the important monuments in Lato.

  • The “Agora”. The “Agora” is an open area that has a deep square cistern. A small rectangular temple with no columns, once had a roof, a single chamber, and several figurines from the 6th century BC  were found. On the south of the “Agora”, is a rectangular platform with two steps. It partly cuts in the rock.
  • The Temple. The temple is located to the south of the “Agora”. It is on a terrace supported by a retaining wall. There is an altar lying in front of the temple.
  • The Prytaneion. The Prytaneion is like a city hall or a place where officials meet. There is also a monumental complex, similar to an ancient theatre, in the north. It was used for watching spectacles and for public discussions.
  • The Fortified City. It is located on the saddle between two hills. The main gate had three entrances and two internal courtyards. It had a steep double acropolis and fortification walls. On the north side, was a wall with towers, and private houses nestled on successive terraces. These houses were simple, usually with two square rooms and a hearth in the centre.

1. The Temple

The Temple is on a terrace supported by a supporting wall, preserving the ruins of the city’s big temple. It comprises a square cella, where the foundation of the deity’s cult statue was found. It has an unreadable inscription and rectangular prodromos. In front of the temple, lies an altar with two steps. There was a “theatrical place” at a lower part to the east of the temple. The steps are partly built and cut in the rock. It holds a seating capacity of 350 persons. To the west lies a nook, while another platform forms the stage. The

2. The “Agora”

The “Agora”, or the centre square, was the focus of religious, civic, commercial life, and sanctuary in the ancient city. A rectangular platform with two steps, cut in the rock, is on the south of the “Agora”. To the west, a Doric stoa with a step on three of its sides was built. It is an open space that serves as a socialising ground for various activities. Several figurines were found in the “Agora” from the 6th century BC. The building structure on the northern side of the “Agora” is an obvious reflection of the typical political structure of such a city.

3. The Prytaneion

Along the northern edge of Lato Ancient City’s “Agora” is a structure called Prytaneion. It was believed to be the seat of Lato’s government, where the Prytaneis gathered. It is similar to an ancient theatre. Furthermore, it has two high towers, built of large blocks surrounding the building. There was an “eschara” or hearth burning day and night, in the centre room of the Prytaneion. There are two rooms to the north where the archives of the city were placed. During ancient times, the Prytaneion served as the city hall of the village, where government officials held their important meetings.

Ancient City of Lato in Crete

Where is Lato Ancient City located?

Lato Ancient City is located in the mountains in the eastern part of Crete. It is 3 km from the village of Krista. It is about 10 km from the town of Agios Nikolaos.

What are the best hiking trails in Lato Ancient City?

Hiking is one way of exploring the archaeological site of Lato Ancient City. There are two known hiking routes near the site. The first route is the Ancient Lato and Kritsa Gorge. The route combines a visit to the Lato Ancient City with a hike to the Kritsa Gorge. The hike duration is approximately 7 hours. The level of difficulty is relatively easy. The hike to Kritsa Gorge is spectacular, and the gorge runs in a circle. Turkish kalderimi trails point the way. There are two routes available. The shorter one is about 5 km. It follows the canyon for about 2 km before heading uphill. The longer route is about 11 km, and it leads to the village of Tapes.

What to know before going to Lato Ancient City?

Lato Ancient City is a beautiful, well-preserved archaeological site. It was one of the most important Dorian city-states of Crete. The site is open to the public between 8 am to 3 pm, with a minimal entry fee of just 2 euros. The site operates every day, except on Mondays and holidays. Children get free entrance. The Lato Ancient City has parking spaces available for all types of vehicles. When visiting the site, one must wear comfortable footwear suited for walking and climbing uphill. Wear a hat and thin clothing, especially when visiting during summer. The site does not have any drinking water, so be sure to bring along a bottle of water. There is a taverna outside the village of Kritsa, where visitors can grab a bite and drink. The best time to visit Lato Ancient City is early in the morning. Compared to other tourist spots in Crete, the Lato Ancient City is not that crowded. Visitors can freely roam around, free of the company of fellow tourists.

Is Lato Ancient City safe?

Yes, the Lato Ancient City is safe to travel to. Like any other place in Crete, Lato Ancient City is safe to visit.  Violent crimes are rare on the island of Crete. It is very safe to go around the beautiful island, especially for tourists. The island of Crete’s local economy counts on tourists, and Cretans are very welcoming and friendly.

Ruins of Ancient City of Lato

When is the best time to visit Lato Ancient City?

The best time to visit Lato Ancient City is in the early morning. To avoid the midday heat and enjoy exploring the site. The best season to visit it is during the spring, between the month of March and May. During spring in Crete, the temperature is warm, and it is the best time for outdoor sightseeing.

What is the best vehicle for visiting Lato Ancient City?

The best vehicle for visiting Lato Ancient City is a rented car. Driving a rented car allows anyone to have their own schedule whenever they want to visit Lato Ancient City. Transportation is important whenever a person travels. When a traveller is driving a rented car, it allows one the flexibility of time to go around places in a more convenient way. A certain schedule may not be followed when driving a rented car, unlike when taking public transportation. One doesn’t have to share a ride with a total stranger and enjoys the privacy of driving a rented vehicle.

Can you rent a car to get to the Lato Ancient City?

Yes, you can rent a car to get to the Lato Ancient City. Tourists can rent a vehicle to explore different places in Crete, like the Lato Ancient City. One can really maximise their time and plan their itinerary while driving along Crete island. There are a lot of options for travellers who wish to travel using a rented car. One can rent a car for just a day, or spend the whole holiday driving a rented car for a month. Booking online is the easiest and quickest way to rent a car in Crete. Just go directly to the car rental website and follow the reservation procedure.

What are the factors to consider before renting a car in Crete?

Crete is a beautiful island in Greece that is a must place to visit for people who love the rich culture and its historical past. There are a number of ways to explore the island, but one way to enjoy it is by renting a car. Learning how to choose the right car to rent in Crete will definitely make the most of one’s time exploring the beautiful spots.

Listed below are the factors to consider before renting a car in Crete.

  • Insurance. Car rental insurance protects a passenger against the cost of damage when renting a car. Crete car rental includes insurance for Collision Damage waiver, and a driver’s credit or debit card is required as a guarantee.
  • Driver’s age. The legal age requirement to drive in Crete is 18 years old. Although, for anyone that wants to rent a car in in Crete and Rental Center Crete the age should be at least 21 years old. One must have a valid driving licence for at least 1 year.
  • Driver’s gender. Both women and men can drive in Crete. As long as the driver is of the legal age of 18, driving a rented car regardless of gender is allowed in Crete.
  • Car type. When travelling in Crete, the vehicle type needed depends on the number of passengers. Travelling with groups or with members of the family requires a much bigger car. Car rental companies in Crete offer a variety of cars to choose from. Choosing a smaller car is best when driving in Crete. The reason for that is that some Greek roads are narrow.
  • Documents needed for renting a car. One important document needed for renting a car is a valid driving licence. However, a credit or debit card with the driver’s name is also one of the requirements in Crete car rental.

How much does a car rental in Crete cost?

Crete is a gorgeous island with several tourist spots that can be travelled using a rented car. Crete car rental costs vary depending on the number of passengers, itinerary, car type, location, and duration. The average cost of renting a vehicle in Crete is around €30 to €40 per day. A car rented for a whole week will cost an average of €250. Renting a vehicle for the weekend will cost around  €78. Affordable car rentals in Crete vary depending on the car type. Car rental companies offer a variety of cars depending on customers’ preferences.

What is the contribution of Lato Ancient City to Crete Tourism?

The tourism industry in Greece, especially on the island of Crete, has become the fastest tourism market in Greece. It has recorded a 60% growth in the past six years. Crete is well known to have its long tradition and history, especially in culture. It is also very safe for tourists from around the globe. There are many wonderful places to visit in Crete, and one of them is the Lato Ancient City. Although it attracts fewer visitors compared to Knossos Palace. The Lato Ancient City is one way of discovering and understanding the ancient life of Greece. The remains are very interesting and there is a real sense of entering a settlement, and a workplace. A tourist who loves history and likes to visit archaeological sites will definitely appreciate it. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the global tourism industry has been greatly affected. People are advised to stay home and limit their travels. The tourism industry in Crete has declined, and there are no tourists visiting the island. Now that the world has opened its way, especially in travelling, the tourism industry is expected to be back in Crete. A total of 4.55 million international tourists visited Greece between January and July 2021. This is a good sign that people are now back to travelling and spending their holidays in beautiful places. Travel restrictions in Crete are also improving, but still observing Covid-19 health protocols.

What are the movies about Lato Ancient City?

There are no movies about Lato Ancient City at present. Although, there have been movies about Greece and Greek mythology in particular.

Is Lato Ancient City in UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

No, Lato Ancient City is not included in UNESCO World Heritage Sites. However, Lato Ancient City is an archaeological site and one of Crete’s most important Doric city-states.

Why does Lato Ancient City considered archaeological site?

Lato Ancient City is considered an archaeological site because it used to be an ancient city in Crete. It is one of Crete’s best-preserved ancient cities. There are still some stone architectures from the Hellenistic period found on the site. Notable for being the birthplace of Nearchus, its original port and sea access was very close to modern-day Agios Nikolaos.