Vessa: the medieval gem of Chios

The majestic Vessa village in Chios is certainly one of the Island’s must see destinations, full of well-preserved history and unique relics. It is one of the stops on our Chios Medieval Food and History Tour.

Vessa is located in the south part of Chios, around 19 km from Chios town. Built in harmony with its surroundings, it seems the village has always been standing there, waiting for the travellers to explore its hidden gems.

The word Vessa means valley in Greek and indicates the geographical location of the village. Vessa has been standing in the same place since the 10th century, and its architecture, just like the architecture of the larger region, is influenced by the threat of the pirate attacks during the Medieval times. Vessa has preserved its Medieval architecture with the stone-built houses and arches, harmonised with the hills that surround the valley making your visit a magical experience.

Vessa Village Chios
Photo credit: Vasilis Agrafiotis

Arriving at the village, the visitor has the impression that Vessa looks like a fortress. All buildings are built from local stones to be camouflaged from the pirates. The old part of the village is surrounded by an external wall which has only one gate. Passing through that gate, the visitor feels like they have travelled back in time, to a world centuries before our times. Since the village was originally built as a fortress, the buildings stand very close to each other.

Vessa village in Chios
Photo credit: Vessa Medieval
Vessa Village in Chios
Photo: Ilia Vorria

The external houses along with the Towers in the four corners of the village are part of the outer fortress walls, whereas the internal houses create the feeling of a village. Behind the exterior walls, you will find the old square and the old olive mill, well-preserved examples of the Genovese architecture that ruled the village during Medieval times. According to the residents of Vessa, a well was located in the middle of the old town square and next to it was the Central Tower. Nowadays, a church stands in the place of the this Tower. The streets of the village are built to function as labyrinth: most alleys lead to dead-ends, making it hard for invaders to navigate the village. Today, of course, these streets are the perfect for the curious visitors to wander around, explore the village and meet the friendly locals.

Vessa Village in Chios
Photo credit: Vessa Medieval

Due to the limited space within the walls, the residents had to extend the village towards the other side of the main road, creating what we call today the Old Vessa and the New Vessa. The New Vessa is equally stunning with its narrow alleys and stoned arches.

To learn more about the history of Vessa and to tour the hidden corners of this unique village, check out our Chios Medieval Food and History Tour.


About the Author:

Maria is a passionate teacher who loves volunteering. She is interested in the history and the traditions of her homeland, and she is a member of Vessa’s cultural association.