Traditional Music

Sitia is proud for its numerous traditional musicians that continue the region's long music tradition. The rich Cretan music tradition has its roots in Greek antiquity and is greatly influenced by Byzantine music, but simultaneously it has been enriched by the music traditions of the wider Eastern Mediterranean. The Cretan music tradition begins with the birth of the greatest of the Gods, Zeus.

The Cretan music tradition is considered as one of the most vivid music traditions in Greece because, not only it continues to develop and to incorporate new creative musical elements, but also because it accomplished to express and comment on contemporary realities. Improvisation is one of the basic characteristics of Cretan music. Specifically, during the various feasts and festivals, the musicians do not limit themselves to the strict repetition of basic musical melodies, but they also enrich their music with improvisations that accompany the dancers in corresponding dancing improvisations.

Musical Instruments

The basic musical instruments of the traditional Cretan music are the lyra and the lute ("Laouto"). However, in the province of Sitia, as in western Crete, the use of violin instead of lyra is more common. In a lot of cases, a mandolin accompanies the lute and the lyra. The mandolin is also often used to sing serenades, the traditional love songs.

Wind instruments, such as the "hampioli" (Cretan flute) and "askomantoura" (the ancient "askaulos") have an important place in the Cretan music tradition.


The basic Cretan dances are "Pentozalis" (which has its origins in the ancient dance "Pyrrihios"), "kastrinos pidixtos", "sousta", "siganos surtos" and "haniotikos surtos". These dances also have their local variations and alterations. Even in our days, traditional Cretan dances are very popular and all cretans know how to dance them. Most of these dances still maintain their ancient circular typology. The dancers form a circle and the first dancer (usually a man) has the opportunity to show his skills with impressive improvisations.

The songs

The Cretan traditional music includes primarily dancing rythms. In a lot of cases, the music simply accompanies the songs, which are often rhythmic recitations of the Cretan poems-rimes "mantinades", or serenades, that are often played in traditional feasts and festivals. The easiness with which the Cretan musicians compose the appropriate serenades for each circumstance is proverbial. In Sitia, the Sitian "Kontylies" (lyra or violin playing skills) dominate and express in an exceptional manner the unique psychosynthesis of the Sitian people.

Sitia county

On the Eastern coasts of Crete the predominant Sun, too strong to be ignored will be revealed to you. The power of the sunlight magnifies the visitor's senses.


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