One of the things I love most in Athens are music barrel organs (laternes). I always stopped to listen to their music ever since I was a child. There is something fascinating about them. The sweet sound they produce, their captivating appearance with lots of decorations and ornaments, the dominating picture in the middle surrounded by flowers.. and definitely its player standing next to it and giving it life.
The story of these organs goes back in the 1st century B.C. with Alexandrian engineer Herona manufacturing the first automatic musical instrument. The first Greek barrel organ was created around 1880 and travelled in the neighborhoods and squares throughout Greece. It is an instrument that has created many feelings inside Greeks and helped greatly in spreading sounds that are loved even today.
One of the remaining barrel organs of Athens can be found at the beginning of Ermou street with tireless Mr. Spyros standing next to it, turning the crank and filling the streets with its tunes. Kind and smiling as usual, every time I talk to him I tell him how happy I am that he brings it to the pedestrian street so that all of us can hear its music and he responds that he is only doing his duty and that she (referring to the barrel organ) chose him.
On your next stroll in the city center, stop and listen to Mr. Spyro’s music and travel back to the old Athens.