© Ministry of Culture and Sports, © 24th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities
Ruins of the large temple at the ancient city of Lato
Lato was one of the most important Doric city-states in Crete, although it must have existed before the "Coming of the Dorians". It is built on a saddle between two hills, at a site protected by possible attacks but also with a splendid view over a large area of the Mirambello Bay. It is possibly mentioned in the Linear B tablets as RA-TO. It was named after Leto (Lato is the Doric type), mother of Apollo and Artemis, although the main goddess worshipped in the city was Eileithyia, who was also depicted on the coins cut by the city. Lato was the birth-place of Nearchos, the admiral of Alexander the Great. Before the end of the 3rd century B.C., the inhabitants of Lato participated in the League of the Cretan cities and shared the same laws. Lato made many alliances with Rhodes, Teos, and king Eumenes of Pergamon. However, it was in continuous conflict with the neighbouring city of Olous, for the arrangement of the borders between them. The harbour of the city was Lato pros Kamara (modern Aghios Nikolaos), which was so flourishing by the middle of the 2nd century A.D. that the administrative centre was transferred there and Lato was subsequently abandoned.
Vili Apostolakou, archaeologist