The distinctive sound of Cretan “Syrtos”

Stelios Petrakis began learning the art of the Cretan lyra in his hometown of Sitia. In 1983, he started his studies at the Sitia School of Music, learning to play the lyra with teachers Giannis Dandolos, Ross Daly, and Eleni Drettaki under the directorship of Kostas Mountakis. It was not long before he extended his interests to include Greek, Turkish, and Bulgarian repertoires, as well as that of Crete. 

Petrakis’s interests have led him to work with an impressive list of international artists who represent multiple Mediterranean musical traditions. He has appeared in concert and recorded with major musicians in world music (Ross Daly, Bijan Chemirani, Keyvan Chemirani, Ojos de Brujo, Patrick Vaillant) and traditional Cretan music (Giorgis Xylouris, Vasilis Stavrakakis, Michalis Stavrakakis, Mitsos Stavrakakis). In addition, he has worked with Greek musicians and composers (Christos Leontis, Stamatis Spanoudakis, Achilleas Persidis) and Spanish singer Manolo García. He formed an instrumental trio with Valencian multi-instrumentalist Efrén López and Franco-Iranian percussionist Bijan Chemirani; the ensemble has toured Europe and India, and recently appeared at the Jazz sous les pommiers festival in France.

Petrakis has performed as soloist at such major venues as the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (Herodeon) in Athens, Royal Albert Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London,Carnegie Hall and the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris. He also has a lutherie workshop in Heraklion, where he makes his own instruments.

Petrakis’s love and admiration for Cretan music led him to form the Cretan Quartet, with which he focuses on the great musical traditions of Crete with a repertoire that consists of traditional pieces and his own tradition-inspired compositions. The quartet produced a live recording in 2015, Avgi ts’ avgis (Crack of Dawn), which won the Coup de Coeur prize of the Académie Charles Cros. The ensemble has appeared in such prestigious international festivals as WOMEX (Cardiff), globalFEST (New York City), Rainforest World Music Festival (Malaysia), World Sacred Spirit Festival (Rajasthan), and Fes Festival of World Sacred Music (Morocco).

Dimitris Sideris / electric cretan lute solo performance

Born in Athens, studies classical guitar at the Attiko conservatory. After moving to Crete in 1997, he graduates University of Crete, Department of Sociology and gets involved with the Cretan lute. Over the last 15 years he has been performing in traditional concerts and festivities, collaborating with prominent Cretan musicians such as Dimitris Sgouros, Zacharias Spyridakis, Antonis Fragakis, Giorgos Xylouris and others. 

He is active in the educational field giving workshops in Greece and abroad, and currently conducting his PhD thesis on “Cretan music identity” at the Faculty of Philosophy & Social Studies in University of Crete. As a member of the bands Daulute and Babel trio and as a solo performer, he is developing a personal style on the Cretan lute integrating various eastern and western elements. In 2015, Dimitris designed and created a prototype musical instrument: the Electric Lute. His most recent music production, Lute Electric : Soundscape recordings of solo performance is captured on film by Before Sound_Filming Reality in Lute Electric the documentary.


Crete Virtual Tour


Crete Virtual Tour



Athens, a modern metropolis, a european capital, a nest for all the Mediterranean cultures. Athens, the meeting point of East and West, the harbor of everyone, who still loves passionately life! There are so many different ways to describe and analyse Athens, that any given effort to do a short depiction of the city is nothing but a try doomed to fail. Nevertheless, we will try to underline some of the main characteristics of the city of Athens. Visit Virtual Tour


Knossos was undeniably the capital of Minoan Crete and is the site of one of the most important and better known palaces of Minoan civilisation. Knossos was inhabited for several thousand years, beginning with a neolithic settlement sometime in the seventh millennium BC, and was abandoned after its destruction in 1375 BC which marked the end of Minoan civilization. It was damaged several times during earthquakes, invasions, and in 1450 BC by the colossal volcanic eruption of Thera, and the invasion of Mycenaeans who used it as their capital, while they were ruling the island of Crete until 1375 BC. Knossos was ruled by the dynasty of King Minos and is connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur. Visit Virtual Tour


Known from the Homeric myth, as the mythical island of Phaeacians where the shipwrecked Odysseus was soothed by princess Nausika, Corfu continues to welcome visitors from all around the world. Be a synchronous Odysseus and follow the new destination of YouGoCulture initiative. Having the Central Corfu and its old town which is in the list of the Unesco World Heritage Sites, a journey begins in the history, the traditions and the unique beauties of the island. Visit Virtual Tour


Situated in continental Greece on Mount Parnassus, Delphi was considered to be one of the most important cities of ancient Greece. It was believed to be home to the goddess Gaia, or Earth, and later to Apollo after slaying Gaia’s son, the snake Python. The Pythian games—similar to the Olympic Games—were held here every four years to honour Apollo’s slaying of the Python dragon. Visit Virtual Tour


A breath away from Athens, the birth place of Eleusinian Mysteries and goddess Demeter challenges you to explore it! Eleusis or Eleusina, as now known, one of the five sacred cities of antiquity enjoys the privilege of being located only thirty kilometers from the historic Athens. But let me refresh it! It could be the privilege of Athens to have so nearby a city full of life and history! Visit Virtual Tour


Even today’s visitors feel that they are in a sacred place as soon as they set foot in the Asklepieion of Epidavros. The place where healing was a religious mystery. The sick were cured by the god Asklepios in their sleep (enkoimesis) or received from him instructions on the therapy they should follow. From the sixth century BC until the end of antiquity, hosts of people resorted to the Sanctuary of Asklepios in expectation that their prayers for healing would be heard and answered by the god. These were patients and pilgrims who arrived there bringing precious votive offerings from all parts of the then-known world. Visit Virtual Tour


Peering over the plain of Argolis, up there from the heights of the acropolis, one comes to terms with the superiority of the Mycenaean civilization. It reached its heyday in the Late Bronze Age (1350 - 1200 BCE) and then disappeared, leaving to eternity its legendary acropolis, built on an inaccessible, rocky hill between two ravines. The footprints of the Atreidai, the mythical royal dynasty, are visible to today's visitor and inspire awe in an era like ours, in which myth meets the history of the most important period of the ancient world. Visit Virtual Tour

Ancient Olympia

What can be said of Olympia and not sound like a cliché? The significance of the archaeological site is self-evident, even if one is not familiar with the fascinating historical details and the political background, which literally span thousands of years. Known to the world as the cradle of the Olympic ideal, this open-air museum of imposing ruins and unique artefacts tells a story of religious piety, fair play, political ambition, and demonstration of power. All the buildings you can still admire were erected to please the gods and send a message to the thousands of visitors who swarmed to the sacred grounds. Walking around the Stadium, the Gymnasium and the Temples of Zeus and Hera – both instrumental in the ritual and competitive part of the Games – modern visitors will be able to understand why the event remained relevant even when the rest of the Ancient World was long dead. As an added bonus to the splendour of the site, the Museum of Olympia boasts some of the most famous works of art produced in the long course of Hellenic culture. Visit Virtual Tour


Travelling in the Messenian land from Mount Taygetus to the coast, our glance dives, following the sunlight dipping onto the Messenian plain. From the mountainous volumes to the fertile valley, the olive groves and herbs, we see a landscape of culture, myth, and history, unfold before our eyes. In the heart of the region of Messenia, one town stands out: Ancient Messene. This "blissful plain" as Homer calls it, became a theatre of war and mythical narrations offering a viewpoint on the past and the present. Visit Virtual Tour