On our second day in Crete, with the wind blowing and the sun ‘not quite hot enough’ we packed up and headed into the hills and the town of Kritsa, a haven for Cretan linen with a few cool sites on the way.

Our first stop was the abandoned town of Lato:

Lato (Ancient Greek: Λατώ[1]) was an ancient city of Crete, the ruins of which are located approximately 3 km from the small town of Kritsa. The city was built in a defensible position overlooking Mirabello Bay between two peaks, both of which became acropolises to the city. Although the city probably predates the arrival of the Dorians, the ruins date mainly from the Dorian period (fifth and fourth centuries BC). The city was destroyed ca. 200 BCE, but its port (Lato Etera or Lato pros Kamara), located near Agios Nikolaos was in use during Roman rule. This has led to the confusion, repeated by Stephanus of Byzantium quoting Xenion, a Cretan historian, that Kamara and Lato were one and the same. Modern scholarship distinguishes the two.

Over the last year, we have found that we are a hiking family, especially the boys who are boundless in energy and fly up the hills. So out of the car and up the mountain we went. The pictures below give you an idea of how the town stretches over the mountain, built into the hills and spreading out over miles. There is something very cool about crawling around and climbing over a village that is thousands of years old. Nestled into corners you see stone wash basins and small rooms and wonder, what was life like so long ago? What possessed them to build right up on the top? We will never know.

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (78)

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (81)

This gives you a good idea of the slope of the hill that the town is built on.

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (104)

Notice the sky. Turn one way and it is black. Turn the other and it is clear and blue.

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (5)

One advantage of building a town at the top is the view of the mountains, olive groves and valleys. Breathtaking.

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (54)

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (35)

The only man left in Lato.

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (76)

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (85)

This gives you a good idea of how steep and rough the hike was. Narda did it with a sprained ankle.

2008 Oct 22 Abandonded city of Lato Crete  (90)

We jumped back in the car and headed into Kritsa. I had to stop and take this picture. In Crete, the old way of life remains.

2008 Oct 23 Road to Kritsa  (2)

As we walked through Kritsa, this sight caught my eye. Old meets new.

Oct 22 Kritsa Crete  (4)

Like all the towns, it is nestled into the hills and I am left to wonder how they survive. Two industries seem obvious, agriculture and tourism. But nothing else. Note the church on the left, one of many. Kritsa is described as one of the most picturesque towns in Crete:

Kritsa is one of the oldest and most picturesque villages in Crete, Greece, built amphitheatrically on a rock hill, named Kastellos, surrounded by olive groves, at an altitude of 375 m. It is part of the municipality of Agios Nikolaos. During the Middle Ages, it was thought to be the largest village in Crete. Kritsa has been destroyed many times during the last centuries because it participated in all of Crete’s revolutions. It is located 10 km from Agios Nikolaos and has about 2200 inhabitants who live in different neighborhoods named Palemilos, Koukistres, Christos and Pergiolikia.

Oct 22 Kritsa Crete  (2)

And  as promised, it was a great little town filled with linen shops. But beware the grandmothers, they suck you in and sell you like the hardest used car salesman around.

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