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Site map

Rethymnon - Ierapetra

 

14. RETHYMNON - IERAPETRA (Travelling inland) (see Map )

14.1 Rethymnon to Amari Valley 14.2 Amari Valley 14.3 Psiloritis mountain 14.4 Dikti mountain
14.5 From Dikti to Ierapetra 14.6 To Agios Nikolaos 14.7 Lato  

Lato (archaeological site)

(Guarded archaeological site, open Tuesday through Sunday from 8:30 a.m. till 3:00 p.m. Free entrance)
One beautiful morning somewhere around 700 BC, some Dorian settlers, looking for a new homeland and tired of their long voyage, decided to pull their boats on the small sandy beach that later became the site of Agios Nikolaos. We don’t know what need or desire led them to this God-forsaken place, but we feel they must have been impressed at the sight of the lake and the vertical rock behind it which they named Kamara.

Map, Rethymnon to Ierapetra, via plateau Omalos

Used as they were to build their towns in hard-to-assail positions in the mountains, they merely built a small settlement here so that they could have a seaport. Then they took their stuff and continued inland in a westerly direction, looking for a suitable hill on which to build their town. Their goal was to find a hill that would offer them protection from enemy attacks and a great view. Indeed they made the best choice possible, especially as concerns the view, which you can admire for yourself. As for the town that was born here marking their new life, they gave it the name of the goddess of labour Leto, which in the Dorian dialect changes to Lato.

Like a true warlike people, they surrounded their town with a wall and built a very strong gate (1) that could not even be passed by an enemy mosquito! After you pass through it (fearlessly!) you can follow the steep path that used to be the main road (2) of the town. On the left (north) side of the road were the people’s homes and a couple of defence towers (3,4), and on the right (south) side of it were the shops and the workshops of the craftsmen. One of these (5) is believed to have been the workshop of a textile dyer, because the water cistern and the other paraphernalia found in it suggested a similar kind of use. The main road will take you to the main square of the town, the Agora (6), a large open area that served the needs of public life. When the weather was good the citizens would sit on the steps (7) at the north end of the Agora and they would listen to political speeches or watch art shows or religious ceremonies or other public events. When the wind or the great heat made it inadvisable to sit there, they probably gathered in the roofed gallery (8) at the west end of the Agora. At the centre of the Agora was their temple (9), which was apparently without a roof. Numerous clay statuettes were found here, but unfortunately they did not have any distinctive features that would allow the archaeologists to decide safely which deity was worshipped in the temple. The water supply of the town came from large underground cisterns, one of which (10) is right in front of the temple. Behind the temple you can see a three-sided platform (11) carved into the rock, with two steps on each side of it. This platform was also used on public occasions.

The major decisions and the administration of the town’s affairs, however, were in the hands of the Prytaneis, a group of wise elderly men who spent their time in the Prytaneum (12a, 12b). This was a well made building behind the steps (seats) at the north end of the Agora, and it was framed by two towers on its left and right side that were more effective in giving it a monumental character than in offering any kind of protection. In this building the Prytaneis received the envoys of other towns and all important visitors that came from other lands. As a visitor from a foreign land, you, too, have every right to enter the Prytaneum. Start with the Banquet Room (12a), where you can take a rest from your trip and have something to eat. (If you do not find those in charge of the banquets just make do with your own sandwiches!) Then proceed to the Conference Room (12b), choose the stone bench that you like best, and lie back comfortably; the prytaneis are “away on business,” and it is not certain when they will be back...

In the middle of the Conference Room is an altar that stands right before your eyes. It was here that Lato’s sacred flame once burned, a flame that was never put out and had come to symbolise the uninterrupted life of the town. However, this life was terminated only five hundred years after the town was founded. No, it was not any violent attack from the outside that caused the flame to go out; it was rather the “lack of fuel.” The Latoans at some point grew tired of living in a well fortified mountain town that was never threatened by anyone, and they decided that it was time to move closer to the sea. So they abandoned the old Lato, which by that time had become less important and was called “The Other Lato,” and they moved to their seaport, Lato near Kamara, which had already taken the place of the old town.


THE ROUTES THE ROUTES

Routes starting from Hania

Hania
1. Hania - Akrotiri
2. Hania - Paleochora
3. Hania - Sameria
4. Hania - Hora Sfakion (Sfakia)
5. Hania - Kissamos (Kasteli)

Routes starting from Kissamos
Kissamos (Kasteli)
6. Kissamos - Gramvoussa
7. Kissamos - Elafonissos
8. Kissamos - Paleochora (through the Topolian Gorge)
9. Kissamos - Paleochora (through Episkopi)
10. Kissamos - Sirikari

Routes starting from Hora Sfakion (Sfakia)
11. Hora Sfakion - Rethimno (Rethymnon) (travelling inland)
12. Hora Sfakion - Rethimno (Rethymnon) (following the coast)

Routes starting from Rethimno (Rethymnon)
Rethimno (Rethymnon)
13. Rethimno - Ierapetra (following the south coast)
14. Rethimno - Ierapetra (travelling inland)

Routes starting from Ierapetra
Ierapetra
15. Ierapetra - Zakros (coastal road)
16. Ierapetra - Zakros (inland route)

Routes starting from Iraklio (Heraklion)
Iraklio (Heraklion)
17. Heraklion - Rethymnon (coastal road)
18. Heraklion - Rethymnon (travelling inland)
19.Heraklioon - Agios Nikolaos (coastal road)
20. Heraklioon - Agios Nikolaos (travelling inland)

Routes starting from Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos
21. Agios Nikolaos - Zakros


Source of the information on this page : “Unexplored Crete”, Road Editions. For more guidebooks and maps of Greece, click here.

 

 

Tip of the day

Chania (3) Continue on Akti Kountourioti, along the shoreline, where you will reach Eleftheriou Venizelou square, known as Syntrivaniou Square during the ottoman occupation (syntrivani meaning fountain). Today the fountain is on display at the court of the Archaeological Museum of Chania. From Eleftheriou Venizelou Sq. go on to Akti Tompazi where you will see Kioutsouk Hasan Mosque (Yali Tzami) an excellent specimen of islamic architecture, which was built in honour of the first ottoman commander of Chania. This is the oldest muslim building on Crete which is now renovated and used as an exhibition area. Walk further on and you will view the Byzantine walls on Kasteli hill beyond the tavernas and cafes. This is the location of Kydonia, a Minoan town, where the first human settlements appeared as early as the Neolithic age.

 

 

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