Cretan music is part of the island’s soul and visitors will hear live music wherever they go, with several distinctive Cretan musical instruments and songs.
Greek Musical Instruments for Sale
'Tell me with a laugh, tell me with a cry,
Tell me you do not love me: What care I?'
Even the great Cretan novelist Nikos Kazantzakis wrote song lyrics, so deeply embedded is music in the Cretan soul. This extract is from the most common type of Cretan song, the mantinada. These are rhyming couplets containing 15 syllables, often expressing extremes of joy and sadness. The form goes back to the 5th century BC but shows later western and especially eastern influences. During Venetian rule in Crete, many musicians came to the island from Constantinople and beyond.
Types of Cretan Music
Other types of music include rizitika, or rebel music, most often played at weddings, baptisms and other feasts, and erotokriti, which are folk songs derived from the 10,000-line epic of the same name written by Vitsentzos Kornáros.
Greek Musical Instruments
Types of Cretan Musical Instruments
The main instrument is the lyra, a three-stringed instrument traditionally made of mulberry wood and played on the knee like an upright violin. Backed by the laouto (lute) and tambouras (bouzouki) it is the true sound of Crete.
Hearing Cretan Musical Instruments
When we stayed at the Dalabelos Estate we were lucky enough to hear the owner playing some of his collection of Cretan musical instruments. Read our review of the hotel here, and see our two videos on YouTube.
Cretan Musical Masters
The music shops of Irakleio are a good source of authentic Cretan music. Names to look out for include Nikos Xilouris (one of the greatest players of them all), and his brother Antonis, known as Psarantonis.
Thanassis Skordalos is another contender for the title of 'the greatest', and you’ll also find shops making and selling traditional musical instruments, if you want to try playing one for yourself.
Libyan Music on Crete
Don't miss our YouTube video of when we met a Libyan musician and recorded him playing Libyan music, with many similarities to Cretan music.
Where to Stay on Crete
Other Crete pages
The best things to do on Crete and top things to see include the Samaria Gorge, the Minoan Palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, the towns of Chania and Rethymnon.
Crete (Kriti) is the largest Greek island and its main attractions include the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the Samarian Gorge, Chania and Rethymnon.
The best Crete hotels include 5-star luxury hotels, historic and romantic Venetian palaces, and several hotels in Hania and Iraklion.
The travel tale Our Hire Car in Crete describes what it’s like when you go driving in Greece and get off the beaten track, resulting in kindnesses.
Crete festivals and events include Carnival Easter, Whitsun, Christmas, many other religious feast days and public holidays.
Visiting Knossos near Iraklion is one of the best things to do on Crete, and this page has a history of the site with visitor information.
Sir Arthur Evans is the archaeologist famous for the excavations he made at the royal palace of Knossos on Crete.
The Diktean or Diktaean Cave, also known as the Psychro Cave, near the village of Psychro in eastern Crete, is said to be the birthplace of Zeus.
Visiting the Arkadi Monastery near Rethymnon is one of the best things to do on Crete.
The Battle of Crete during World War 2 inspired several books and took place with an airborne invasion over Maleme on the north coast of the island.
The Samaria Gorge is one the longest gorges in Europe and doing the hike is one of the best and most popular things to do on Crete.
Maleme near Chania is where the people who died during the battle of Crete are buried, in the German War Cemetery with the Commonwealth War Cemetery nearby.
Malia on the north coast of Crete is renowned for its nightlife and beaches but also has the Minoan Palace of Malia, one of Crete's many archaeological sites.
Greece Travel Secrets page on Phaistos or Faistos, the site of one of the finest Minoan palaces on Crete and is where the mysterious Phaistos Disc was found.
Agios Nikolaos is a pretty and popular town on the north coast of Crete and this page on Greece Travel Secrets covers its history, museums and beaches.
Chania is the main city in Western Crete with a lovely setting and a beautiful harbour as well as several museums.
Rethymnon is the third-largest city in Crete and has a Venetian fortress, Archaeological Museum, Old Town area and Venetian harbour,
Ancient Gournia is a Minoan archaeological site between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia in Eastern Crete where the visitor can see evidence of a maze of back streets.
Ancient Gortina is an archaeological site in southern Crete famous for the church of Ayios Titos and for the Law Code inscribed here, the first in Europe.
Elounda on Crete's north coast is a popular holiday town with a pretty harbour, from where you can take day trips by boat to see the island of Spinalonga.
Hiking the Samaria Gorge on Crete, one of the best things to do on Crete, by Greece Travel Secrets.
How to make Petimezi, the sweet Cretan syrup made from wine must, is explained to Greece Travel Secrets.
Greece Travel Secrets goes hiking in southwest Crete with Ramblers Walking Holidays based in Paleohora and hiking the E4 footpath and to Anidri and Azogires.
Greece Travel Secrets tours the Lyrarakis Winery on Crete and learns about Crete grape varieties such as plyto, dafni, vidiano, vilana, mandilari and kotsifali.
Greece Travel Secrets visits Crete and learns about making rakomelo from Jorgos Kourmoulis in Agouseliana.
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...
Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?
- Click on the HTML link code below.
- Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment,
your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.
Greece welcomed three sculpture fragments from the Parthenon, which were returned following an intervention by Pope Francis by the Vatican Museums, during a reunification ceremony in Athens. The fragm…
Greeks will be going to the polls on May 21 after the country’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced the news on Tuesday.
Low-cost Dutch airline Transavia, part of the Air France-KLM group, this summer will operate direct flights between Paris and the Greek island of Kefalonia two times per week, according to the Greek N…
Greece is among the 10 most searched for destinations in Europe, according to travel intelligence provider ForwardKeys, as intra-European air seat capacity is set to recoup pre-pandemic levels this Ea…
The Archaeological Museum of Elefsina, one of the first archaeological museums in Greece, has reopened its doors to the public after completing maintenance and improvement works. The upgrade focused o…
The historic Lykavittos open-air theater atop Lycabettus Hill in central Athens, will be reopening to the public following a complete revamp, announced Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis this week. The po…
Thessaloniki “Makedonia” Airport has been named one of the top in Europe at the 2022 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards by the Airports Council International (ACI) World and travel technology compan…
Greece is among the top 20 countries for entrepreneurs and startups, according to a recent study conducted by Compare the Market, a UK-based insurance comparison website.
Demand from Poland is growing with 30 percent of Polish travelers having already booked their holidays to Greece, according to feedback collected by the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) duri…
Demand for Airbnb-style rentals in Greece was the strongest in Europe last month despite historically being the least busy period of the year, marking a 60 percent increase compared to 2022, said anal…