The Syrtos comes from the district of Kissamos in Western Crete. Its origins have been variously accounted for: according to one hypothesis, the dance first appeared in Byzantine times, while another argues that it is similar in rhythm to dances of the Renaissance. Yet another theory has the modern form of the Syrtos first appearing in the mid-18th century in the area around Lousakies.

From the early 20th century onwards the Syrtos spread all over Crete. Now the most popular dance at Cretan festivities, at weddings it often ousts the more traditional Siganos from its status as the bride's dance.

Syrtos (Ioannis M. Tzanis Collection)
Syrtos dance
Syrtos, Mochos, Pediada District, 1960
Syrtos (Nelly's, Benaki Museum, Athens)
Cretan children dancing the syrtos
The Syrtos or Chaniotikos, 2000 (G. Kouyioumoutzis Folk Dance Workshop)