Light Showers
Wind: 15 Southwest


Wind: 27 West


Wind: 06 West

Fragma Potamon

Wind: 13 West

courtesy of:

Rodakino - Agios Konstantinos

Length: 20.5 km
Estimated time: 7-8 hours
Suggested period: March - October
Difficulty: Relatively easy

Cretan Traditional Music

Crete is one of those regions in Greece that still maintains a rich musical tradition, whose roots go further back than the Turkish occupation, the Venetian occupation and Vizantio, as far as classical antiquity.

Factors such as the natural division of the island in separate parts, the different occupations of their residents and particular socioeconomic conditions in each region have contributed to the creation of a big variety of instrumental melodies and songs. Some of these songs are locally sung, whereas other songs are known on the whole island. The so called "rizitika" songs of western Crete fall into the first category. Research has shown that they constitute a special class of Greek popular songs, including every other type of Greek popular songs, apart from "kleftika" songs.

The so called "rhymes", and especially "mantinades", fall into the second category and continue to represent one of the most important means of expression of Cretan people, as does the music of traditional dances. Instruments used for this kind of songs are the lyre, violin, lute, guitar, mandolin, bulgari, bagpipe etc, which are usually combined in couples, such as lyre-lute, violin-guitar or lute etc.


Traditional dances, which are danced by men and women wearing Cretan clothes, are sometimes fast and sometimes slow, but they are always vivid and imposing. Always under the sound of the lyre, dancers form a circle and show their art by dancing the most common dances, such as pentozalis, sirtos and pidihtos, in a complicated combination of steps. In every case, the person leading the circle, who is usually a man, holds the right hand of the second person to support his weight and shows particular virtuosity with wonderful figures, which are called "talimia".

Nowadays, the main dances in Crete are five, but there are other local dances too, which are not widely spread:


It is danced in the whole of Crete but mostly in the western part and more specifically in the prefectures of Rethymno and Chania. People dance in a circle and make 12 steps. They hold each other by the fingers with their hands at the height of their shoulders.


It is danced on the entire island, but mostly in eastern and central Crete. People dance in a circle and at a fast pace, going back and forth and making 16 steps. They hold each other by the fingers with their hands at the height of their shoulders.


It is danced on the entire island and comes before the fast pentozalis. It is danced slowly in a circle with the arms of each dancer put on the shoulders of his fellow dancers. It has 8 steps.


This is also danced on the entire island and is a more powerful and jumpy dance. It comes after Siganos Pentozalis and it is danced at a slow pace and in a circle, with the arms of ach dancer put on the shoulders of his fellow dancers. It comprises 11 jumpy steps.


This is also a pan-Cretan dance. It is usually danced by young men and women, dancing face to face. In Sousta, figures are made with the arms. It has 4 steps. It is danced by turns or alterations of the dancer's position.

The melodies of these dances are played on the lyre or the violin, which are accompanied by the lute or the guitar and they do not have a strictly defines morphologic structure. They comprise some autonomous melodies and some simple melodic phrases, the "kondilies", which can be beautified by a small amount of improvisation and can be combined in various ways.



This danced is called "sheepy" or "sheep" dance or "apanomeritis" or "dagounaki" and it is one of the oldest dances in Crete. It used to be dance at Amari and the former county of Ag. Vasileios in the prefecture of Rethymno, as well as in other villages of Rethymno and Irakleio until a little after the war. It was called "sheepy dance", because dancers stamp their feet on the ground, as sheep do when they get angry. Elder people of Amari say that they also sang "mantinades" in the rhythm of the Apanomeritis, which they cannot recall any more.

Ethianos Pidihtos

This is another version of Pidihtos dance. It was named after Ethis village, which is located on Asterousia Mountains. No musical composition has been saved for this dance.


This is a Cretan dance which existed at Platania village of Amari. Its music was similar to the one of fast pentozalis and, more specifically, with the well-know melody called "Me tou Magiou tsi mirodies" (With the scents of May). Its steps are not known, thus its relevance with pentozalis is not yet defined, which is also true for the origin of its name, which obviously reminds of the word "pirihio" (war dance).


This is a joyful and funny dance that fits well with the carnival temper. It is called zervodexos because dancers sometimes go towards the left (zerva) and sometimes towards the right (dexia). This change in direction is done when the lyre player plays a certain high note. These consequent turns contribute to the joyful character of this dance, even more so when the lyre player "leads" dancers outside the coffee shop or the square where the fete takes place.

Koutsampidianos or katsampidianos or katsampadianos or koutsistos

It has eleven steps and it follows the music played on the lyre. It is mostly danced in the prefecture of Rethymno and, more specifically, in the county of Amari, but also in other nearby regions, such as Harkia village of the former county of Rethymno. There is a tradition that says that it was first danced by a chieftain of Ampadia of Amari, who had wanted to dance pentozalis, but due to a disability of his leg, musicians modified the rhythm. He dragged his left leg and based his right leg on the ground. This dance was adapted according to his steps and is saved until our days. It is played according to the first two turns of pentozalis but the person leading the circle does not do any "talimia" or other figures. With Katsampadianos dance, people used to tell "mantinades" which referred to love and to the dance itself.

Lazotis or Lazotikos

This is one of the forgotten Cretan dances, whose melody, though, is still famous on the entire island. It used to be danced mostly in the prefecture of Rethymno. We mention the famous "Kane me kira gampro" (Lady, make me a groom) by Kostas Mountakis, which is often danced as a hasaposerviko. It comes from the tradition of Pontos, with two possible explanations about its origin. It either came from Crete, from Lazoi (a population coming from the Pontic Sea), around the 18th century, or it was transferred by Cretan warriors who fought in the Balkan wars in the early 20th century. The circle is made up by men and women who hold each other by the hands and make eight steps.

Lasithiotikos Pidihtos

This dance belongs to the kind of "pidixtoi" Cretan dances and possibly has its origin in the ancient Pirriheios dance (war dance). With Lasithiotiko pidihto all the nobility and decency of eastern Cretans is pictured. At Siteia, this dance is called "Steiakos" and at Ierapetra "Gerapetritikos" (in the past, in Ierapetra, it used to be called "Cretan dance"). Undoubtedly, this is the most representative dance of eastern Crete. Dexterous dancers and skilful musicians are valued even more with this dance. It starts at a slow rhythmic pace and gradually becomes fast, but also moderate, without ever crossing the limits and becoming Dionysian. Always, when the dance approaches its end, the violin player "turns" to bagpipe, which means that he imitates its sound. Pidihtos has some small variations at Siteia, Ierapetra and Merabello, concerning both the steps and the melody, which is characterized by great variety.


This is a popular adaptation of the famous polka that became known and widespread in Crete, at least in the prefecture of Rethymno, in the early twentieth century, as a particular kind of Cretan dance for two persons. It is a particularly playful and erotic dance and it fulfilled the needs of that period, having also a satirical tone.


This is a local adaptation of "siganos" dance. It took its name from the epode "Gia to Theo, mana mou" (Oh God, oh mother), which is said between "mantinades".

Mikro mikraki

A female dance that used to be danced in the prefecture of Rethymno and in most of its villages. Women formed a circle and danced with their hands held at shoulder height and with bent elbows.


Sirtos (or sousta at some villages) danced by couples, especially in the prefecture of Rethymno. It used to be danced in moments of joy and happiness, particularly at carnivals. It is danced by men and women, with the woman holding one end of a kerchief with her left hand and, beside her, a man holds the other end, until the lyre player shouts "dama", at which point each man leaves his couple's kerchief to catch the one of the woman in front of him. The last dancer usually remains only with a chair's escort (because there is, on purpose, one woman less).


The famous dance called Hasaposerviko appeared in discography by Kostas Mountakis in the ‘60s. From various narrations, we know that, at least in the prefecture of Rethymno, it was danced as early as the 20th century.


This dance was named after a "mantinada" that is always sung first during it:

"Xenobasaraki mou, xenobasariko mou
Sgouro vasilikaki mou kai na soune diko mou"

Its melody is cute, light and makes everybody want to danse. In the past, it was danced at every fete, especially at the mountainous villages of Ierapetra and Kato Merabello (where it is called "Mana"). It was very well-known until the ‘60s. It is a smooth and slow dance, which is similar to modern Siganos. We can say with some reserve that Xenobasaris is a local form of Siganos. However, all those who have experienced the use of both these dances believe that they are different.

Prinianos or Brimianos or Priniotis

Priniotis is a dance with roots in eastern Crete. But, after the middle of the previous century, it was also danced in the prefecture of Rethymno and Irakleio as well. It is danced by men and women, with the men's hands held over the hands of women. In the first turns, men held their hands up and left the women, going behind them and dancing in reverse. Men and women then, held by the hands, continued dancing in opposite directions, until they met again, with the men being beside the women, and formed a circle identical to the one they had at the beginning of the song.


This is a female dance that, at least in our days, is practiced in the county of Kissamos. It is one of the local dances of Chania that have faded away since the mid-20th century, due to cultural and social conditions. The style of its music is relevant to the music of the Aegean Sea.

Roumathiani sousta

It is one of the many forgotten Cretan dances that had explicitly local importance. It is also mentioned with the name Roumatsitiki or Gitsikia sousta. Local dancers simply call it sousta. It is danced in a circle and belongs to the age-long history of Pirrixeio dance or a version of this dance at Chania. By reason of its local importance (Palia Roumata Kissamou) it was named Roumathiani. It is similar to all other Cretan dances that resemble Pirrixeio dance (Maleviziotis, Ortses, Steiakos pidihtos etc). It is danced by men only, the first of whom makes some figures and the rest of them follow him. Roumathiani sousta is played mainly on the violin with a lute or a fife or even by itself.


This is a "pidihtos" dance of the prefecture of Rethymno and, more specifically, at the region of Ampadia (southern side of the county of Amari), in which dancers were held by the hands and had their elbows bent. Its name is a compound of the words "tria" (three) and "zala" (steps) and this is the reason why it was named Trizalis. It is usually characterized as "Kourouthianos", which means that it was most often danced at Kouroutes village of the region of Ampadia.

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Cretan Music