Tzanis Cave

Tzanis Cave or Katavothra or Chonos, is located in Omalos Plateau in Chania. It reaches a length of 2500m and a depth of 280m. The cave has raised the interest of foreign tourists since 1865. Since 1961 caver groups of different nationalities explore the cave. Tzanis is accessible, but is not organized for tourists.

Cave Tzanis has taken its name from the legendary chieftain of Lakki, Markos Tzanis or Fovos (meaning Fear). He was distinguished for his battles against the Venetians in the late 17th century and later against the Turks. After the conquest of Crete by the Turks, he fled to the island of Souda. From there, he attacked against Turks and killed many of the most brutal ones. He inspired fear to the Turks, who named him Fovos (which means Fear in Greek

The legend of the shepherd and the fairies

An interesting legend about the cave is often told by the locals. They say that a young shepherd, an excellent lyre player, called Tzanis got lost in the area. He was abducted by the fairies of the cave in order his lyre to accompany their dances.

Since then, during some moonless nights, a sound comes out from the cave. This is the music for the dancing fairies, the elves that keep in their hands, infants as white as the foam of the sea. Infants are the fruit of their love with some mortals. They swirl with their loosened, long, silky hair. At the same time, Tzanis accompanies their dance, by playing skillfully an unsurpassed melancholic but magnificent melody of his beloved lyre.

They also tell that during that night, the song echo that can be heard on the mountains and the plains is very sweet and sad. The fairies sing lyrics for their love, while Tzanis nostalgically sorrows for his lost life, which he once lived happily among humans.

Therefore, there was a tradition among the lyre players of Crete, telling that only those who are taught by Tzanis may become perfect in lyre. For this reason, many people used to visit this cave during moonless nights, to take the high quality lessons. They gathered and sat circularly, experimenting with their lyres. At first, however, they were taking precautions: There were fairies in the cave, but the cross inscribed in the middle of the circle, provided the appropriate protection against them.

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