The Vriseis in Lesvos

By on November 27th    /    Culture, Islands, NE Aegean, People    /    0 Comments   /   show comments



For many people Vatera is the most beautiful beach of the island of Lesvos. Maybe. But undoubtedly it is the greatest. Behold: eight kilometers of pure grey sand with blue, cool and deep waters. The village itself is nothing beautiful. It was called Vatera because of the many bushes (vata in Greek language) once existed here. Today, apart from bushes many rooms grow here too. Nothing evokes the ancient city that once existed here. Its elusive memory maybe…


Λέσβος, Βατερά


A dirt road goes west from Vatera and passes over Almyropotamos river, in the waters of which myriads of terrapins graze. The jeep jerked passing beside the hill of Aigiannis the Hermit. People from the surrounding villages gathered once here to attend the military exercise “Parmenion” which evolved into the bay of Vatera. It was quite like a show to them…

I stopped for a moment beside the dirt road to see a stone well – it is called  Ahileiopigada. Local legends are connecting the well with a story from the Trojan war. The story of Greek hero Achilles (the name of the well comes from Achilles) and the seizure of beautiful girl Vriseis, who supposedly lived in the ancient city Vrisa, which once was here (today the homonym village is built higher, in the hinterland). The truth is that Homer wrote in his epic poem “Iliad” that Vriseis was born in Lyrnissos, in Asia Minor. Myths have their own truth though…

I smelled the freshly cut grass listening to the few skylarks. Oh poor Briseis … Achilles killed her husband, Minis, and her three brothers and took her with him. And then king Agamemnon took her and a quarrel between ancient Greeks started at the Trojan shore. Now the legends haunt the old stone cover of the well.


Λέσβος, Βατερά


 I followed the path that ascends through olive groves and pine trees to the edge of the cape at Agios Fokas. A white church stood there, guarding the headland, there where an ancient temple of Dionysus Vrisagenis existed before a few thousand years,. Somewhere here also, there was a city called Vrisa, founded by the ancient king Makaras. Vines were cultivated here for centuries. For that, god Dionysus was worshiped here, at this very picturesque coast.

The temple of Dionysus had once a beautiful mosaic floor. There were once many more ruins than today but the locals for many years took the ancient stones and made lime with them. Then they sold the lime and made some money from the ancient temple… I heard this story by the fisherman Dimitris Angeleros while he was cleaning his nets. At the port, where he had tied his boat the bottom was paved with slabs. Locals say, people had deliberately thrown the stones from the old years for preventing the pirate ships of anchoring here.


Λέσβος, Βατερά


The little port is quiet nowadays. No pirates here… Only docked fishing boats, that fish the neighboring waters of the southern part of the island. I heard a noise on the water breaking the calmness. Dimitri threw a dead crab as he was cleaning the net. “Only small sea breams was today’s catch…” he said. Unfortunately big snappers did not passed by his nets that morning…

I sat next to the columns of the ancient temple enjoying the sunset. The coasts of western Lesvos darkened with a soft mauve color. An acrid odor of skinos and thyme filled the cape. I thought about the nymph Vrisa who nursed god Dionysus, according to the Greek myths. Some legends say that a nymph Vrisa knew how to produce honey and she taught Beekeeping to the humans. I thought about Briseis again.

I am confused… But it is normal. You do not clear up easily with myths…


Λέσβος, Βατερά



Where am I?

Vatera village is very close to Polichnitos town, which is 45 km to the west of Mytilene,  the capital city of the island of Lesvos (where you can go either by boat from Piraeus or by airplane from the Athens Airport). The fastest way to get to Vatera  is by car, following the main road through Polichnitos and Vrisa.



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