Vrisa – Visit the Museum of Natural History Collection
Vrisa (or Vrysa) is on the main route leading from Polichnitos to Vatera beachside resort. Its proximity to Vatera makes it popular with visitors wishing to acquaint themselves with this picturesque village and admire the paleontology display in the Vrisa Collection of Natural History before resuming their journey towards the shore.
The village was relocated a number of times, seeking refuge in the cape of Agios Fokas and the banks of Alpyropotamos before a permanent settlement could be established in the valley of Lagadas. It is built around the small ‘Platanos’ (plane tree) square where visitors can enjoy cold drinks and a friendly chat with the locals.
Vrisa boasts an array of private and public buildings constructed out of locally mined ‘ignimvritis’ or using bricks from the regional factories in operation until a few decades ago. Exploring Vrisa calls for a walk in a maze of stone-paved alleys and you will be enchanted by the rustic houses, well-kept neighborhoods and pervading air of authenticity of this traditional village.
The basilica of ‘Zoodochos Pigi’ (Life-giving Spring) was constructed in 1803 and features an extraordinary iconostasis of carved wood. Decorated with scenes from the Old and New Testament, it is acknowledged as an ecclesiastical masterpiece. The church of Agios Konstantinos (Saint Constantine) is located opposite the Vrisa Collection of Natural History.
The residents are active in the preservation of the age-old customs and traditions of Vrisa. Come here and, with timing and luck on your side, you might just discover the meaning of ‘refenes’, witness a litany pleading for rain at a time of drought or immerse yourself in traditional celebrations of the feast of Saint Constantine on the 21nd of May.
In the year 1980, a number of fossils of extinct plants and mammals were brought to light during a small-scale excavation project run in the Vatera area. In subsequent years, numerous fossilized bones were discovered by locals. The discoveries attracted the attention of the University of Athens and excavations took place in the wider Vatera region, uncovering an array of plant, bird and animal fossils. In 1999, the Vrisa Collection of Natural History became established in order to showcase the findings.
The Vrisa Collection of Natural History is set in the former ‘Parthenagogion’ (school for girls) and is responsible for large numbers of visitors being drawn to the area. It includes a variety of fossils found under sedimentary rocks in Vatera and its immediate vicinity and exhibits such as minerals, rocks, pieces of taxidermy and an array of botanical samples. If you are interested in the natural history of Lesvos, the Collection should be your first port of call. In the course of your visit, you will be given a tour of the museum and the opportunity to talk to Mr. Kostantinos Taxidis, the collection’s highly informative curator. The Vrisa Collection of Natural History is open as follows:
• April to October: Tuesdays and Sundays only, 09:30 am - 17:00 pm
• May to 21st June: Monday to Friday, 9:30 am - 15:30 pm.
• 21st June to September: Monday to Friday, 09:30 am - 15:00 pm and 16:00 pm - 20:00 pm.
Other places of interest include the nearby Gatelouzian (or ‘Palaiopyrgos’) tower and the fabulous shoreline of Vatera.