This page may contain affiliate links, see our disclaimer here.
The island of Kriti was home to one of the oldest civilizations in Europe, the Minoans, who thrived on the island as early as 2000 BC. One of the most interesting aspects of this early community was their beautiful Minoan art.
The depictions of figures, plants and animals have communicated to us in our modern times through careful work of archaeology. Many of the wall art or frescoes can now be viewed in museums on the island, and at the Minoan art sites such as Knossos.
Byzantine art emerges from the fourth century until the fall of
Constantinople in 1493. Primarily religious in subject, artists at the
Cretan School continued after the fall of Byzantium and this period is
also referred to as Post Byzantine art.
Crete has some of the finest examples of Byzantine art in its churches
all over the island, and in the following museums.
Museum of Religious Art - Monis Odigitrias, Heraklion
Centre for Byzantine Art - Ethnikis Antistaseos, Rethymnon
Crete Art - one of the most respected painters of the European renaissance – an artist known as El Greco – was born in Crete and studied art in the flourishing Venetian culture of the time, in the city of Heraklion.
More about the life and work of Domenikos Theokotopoulos – El Greco.
El Greco was born in the village of Fodele Φόδελε located 32 km west of Heraklion.
Visit the Museum of El Greco, in the house said to be his birthplace, on the outskirts of the village.
Crete Art - the arts of ceramics, basket weaving, knife making, and hand woven
textiles are arts that have been practised on Crete for centuries. One
of the most unique hand woven articles is the sariki or headscarf worn by boys and men in the traditional costume.
The sarikia are woven and knotted by hand by women, mostly now
the older women who hold the knowledge of this traditional art.
Two villages known for their textiles are Anogia and Kritsa.
A good exhibition of folk art is located in the Historical and Folk Art Museum on Vernardou 28-30, in Rethymnon.
Still handmade and worn with great pride, are Cretan boots. These are generally black, for everyday use, and white are now used for dances and special occasions. These boots are made from leather, for each person individually, by a master craftsman.
You must sit to have your own fitting done. These boots are called stivania στιβάνια. They are very practical for the rough mountainous terrain and tough weather conditions of the farmers, shepherds and workmen of Crete.
The stivania are made with flexibility around the ankle, and over
time form creases around that area. This is one way you can tell if a
Cretan man is wearing his stivania or just a modern work boot.
To visits a stivania workshop go to the old town of Chania in the west of Crete and go to Skridlof
Street, just off Chalidon street and near the Chania Market.
Crete Art - much artistic expression in Kriti is expressed in music. The passion, soul and pathos entwined in the performance of Kritiki musiki is unique the world over.
The art of dancing is one of the dearest traditions and most dynamic art form of Crete.
See more about Cretan dancing here
Summer festivals all over Crete are great places to experience the dances of Crete such as the Sirto, the Malavisiotiko, Pentozalis, Siganos and the Sousta.
The luthiers of Crete create the soulful instruments such as lyra and laouto, this traditional hand craft is central to the Cretan culture.
See works at Stagakis Workshop - 45 Chatzimixali Giannari Street in Rethymnon.
Here you will see the creations and craft of Manolis Stagakis, a third generation craftsman of tradtional Cretan lyres.
Crete Art - the beautiful doors of Crete are the focus of a modern collaborative art project by Dalius Art. The Venetian doors of Crete have been recreated with twig pen and ink, matched with a mantinada or poem as a tribute to the creative character of the island.
Modern artistic expression also flourishes on the island, from ceramics to glass and jewellery, painting and sculpture, every art form is created on the island, one only needs to attend the Renaissance Festival in Rethymnon each year to enjoy the many dramatic arts as well as creative arts.
Marios Chalkiadakis and Natassa Papadogamvraki studied glass craft in Scandinavia and England and worked with Orrefors before returning to Crete to open their own studio in Anogeia.
The Lake Gallery - Art Sourcing: a gallery of contemporary art in Agios Nikolaos; marketing and hiring original works and promoting Greek and international artists.
This gallery provides all aspects of art services such as art rentals, sales, art publications, consultancy, commissioning, exhibitions, seminars and workshops.
A beautiful location to see vibrant modern collections. Contact Mary-Jane Schumacher to make a rendezvous to see options in the pieces.
Car hire in Crete is a really good idea as it is a large island 60 km by 260 km. There is so much to explore.
When you book with our car rental partners - Rental Centre Crete - you are supporting a local company with excellent service and an easy online booking procedure. We are sure you will be well looked after by the team. Choose from hybrid or non-hybrid vehicles.
"We trust you have enjoyed these tips from the team at We Love Crete. Evíva!"
with further questions or feedback. We love to hear about your travels
in Kríti and Greece. Let us know of any updates or additions, errors or
omissions. Help us make this website the best it can be. Kaló Taxidí!