Mitato (plural: mitata) is a vaulted stone building of the Cretan mountains met mainly in Psiloritis Mount and the White Mountains. The mitata have their ancestral roots in Minoan times, as almost in the same way (ekforic building system) the Minoan vaulted graves were built.
The artful construction of mitato, built only of stones without using binder, was the best solution in the bare rocky mountains of Crete. This is indicated by the fact that after so many centuries, even today many shepherds of Crete use mitata in order to stay close to their flocks during the summer months and using them as creameries.
The mitata are usually built adjacent to a courtyard for flocking of sheep and goats, while inside there is room for accommodation and storage of cheese. In the center of the dome there is a hole for allowing the smoke of fire out.
The name mitato comes from the Latin word metatum, which means military lodge. Indeed, during the Byzantine years mitata were used for temporary accommodation by soldiers, messengers and other officials. It was something like the current mountain shelters.
In the Cretan dialect Xylodema means the makeshift fence that was built with dry shrubs to prevent the entry of goats and other animals in the rural properties. Xylodema is found as a toponym in several parts of Crete. One of them is at the entrance of plateau Askifou, at the highest point of the road that goes from the plateau to Krapi. From Xylodema the visitor has the best views across the plateau and the settlements Askifou and its forts.
One of the most picturesque mitata in Crete is that of Kakioros at Livadiotiko Aori, high above the village of Livadia on Psiloritis Range. It is located next to the road leading from Livadia the plateau of Mygerou Lakkos at an altitude of around 1500 meters, one of the highest mitato in Crete.