History of Crete
Musical Instruments of Crete
Cretan Dances
Rebel Songs (Rizitika)
Folk Poetry (Mantinades)
Legends of Crete


: The Threshing Floor
: Drosoulites
: Virgin Mary of Harakas
: Legends of Fragokastelo

: The Lyre Player

Each year thousands of visitors, Greeks and foreigners, admire the Samaria Gorge, at the plateau of Mount Omalos.
In the 39 kilometres of distance from Chania till Ksiloskalo, there are many alterations of the landscape and many sights. First is the plain of Ayia with the prisons. Then, it's the bridge of Keritis with the monument of 118 witnesses. Then, fascinating orange groves and the village Fournes. The view is enchanting. After the village of Laki, comes the wild looks of the mountain Madara.
The road, brings new impressions to the eyes. The landscape becomes wilder. The Fokies, the pit of Vergeris and, finally, the plain of Omalos is showing. If you go there, you will stop. You look around. The wild beauty of the mountains carries you away. The Gigilos, the Pahnes, the Agathopi and the other peaks make you feel awe.

The sky makes its presence more intense. Many times it unexpectedly scares. In this magnificent and rough image the land of Omalos rests calm. You look around again. You see everything. Your look embraces it with anticipation. Later on, you continue, after a while you 're in the plateau. Here, there is much you can see and admire: The tower of Hatzi-Mihali Giannaris, the church of Saint-Panteleimonas, the lodges of the pasturages, Ksiloskalo, the caves. .. All these are connected to the legend and history...
Observing all these, you are not going to see the ghosts and spirits for sure. If however you are lucky, you can meet nearby someone older who will narrate what the usual persons do not see. And first of all about the moonstruck lyre playeri:
In these places, built from God, in Omalos, in Madares, in the Gorge, lived once upon a time a shepherd. He was an upstanding man, playing the lyre enchantingly. No one knew his name. They called him "the Lyre Player". He was sitting on the rocks, under the shadow of the trees, near above in the rocks, in the shade of trees, near water springs, or in the caves and he was playing the lyre, making celestrial melodies...
It was summertime when some people heard him playing. From mouth to mouth it came known that a lyre player in Omalos, competes the wind and the birds in playing.
Young and old people started to go and listen to him playing, hearing the voice of the lyre that was recounting the sufferings of the heart and was saying about the beauties of the world.

At some time the lyre player was lost with no warning at all. They looked for him everywhere, but he was not found. The search took months and years! In the end the legend wrapped him and his lyre...
It was a night in October or November, noone knows for sure, with no moon. The wind was blowing strong, the sky was groaning threatening, the rain was falling like mad on the cypresses and the torrents were moving as if they were about to drown the ground. At that night the lyre player was in the beginning of the plain of Omalos and, not wanting to wet his lyre, he entered te cave of Tzanis.
Immediately, a strange warmth wrapped him. Something like a vision enraptured him. There were small ponds with water inside the cave and out of the water tall beautiful women were gushing, with faces like the bright moon. Their blonde hair was falling like a river of gold till their knees.
Suddenly they began to dance. But this dance was with beauty, greatness, it was air blowing, as the feather in the wind, as the steam in the sun. .. they were not dancing, they were flying! The lyre player began to play, accompanying the dance. The hours passed, the dance kept going on, and the lyre player, mad by the fairies - because they were fairies - as if they were not on the ground, was playing and playing and playing...
Later on he followed them, out of his mind and got lost with them...
Since then he never come up in the light again. Only the moonless nights returns with the fairies in Omalos, in the cave of Tzanis and accompanies their dance. He plays and plays with the lyre sad songs, without getting tired, with no stop, without taking a breath. The peaks, the cliffs and the gorges echo his magic music all around...

Once a young man heard him playing and went mad on it. He decided to go near him to learn. An old woman adviced him to make a circle with a cross in the middle and sit in there, to protect himself from the fairies. So it was done. He took his lyra and went tothe cave. He sat in the circle with the cross and waited patiently. Then the lyre player appearred and started to play while around him the fairies were dancing. The hours passed by, the one after the other and the dance didn't mean to stop. Only when the cocks started crowing, everything was lost and he was left alone.
Then he unwittingly touched the bow and started to play. The sound that came out of his lyra, made his body numb. Without knowing how, he was playing as the one who before was charming the fairies... perfect...

From him, the secret became known. He admitted it. And he was saying to those that begged him to teach them, that they should hear the moonstruck lyre player. Those who dared, they went and heard him. And they became similar to him...
Those were the big, genuine lyre players of Crete. Those that turned our pain into a song and our joy into a great feast.
And today they might still exist. If you find yourself in a marriage or in where ever there's joy and you hear the lyra sighing in the hands of the instrumentalist, remember the cave of Tzanis in Omalos and the moonstruck lyre player...


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