Patmos is not a
big island, but it is one of the best known. It was here St. John had his
vision and wrote the apocalypse, and this is why Patmos is sometimes called
"The Jerusalem of the Aegean". The Monastery of St. Johns towers above the
capital, Chora, and the whole island breathes of faith and devotion.
Nevertheless, there is more to the island than its Christian reputation. There are many nice beaches along the jagged coastline, and the people grow fruits and olives on the green hills. The landscape invites you to take long walks and there is much to discover.
Patmos included as one of the monuments of world heritage of UNESCO.
The Monastery of St. John the Theologian with its priceless treasures, and the preservation of the traditional village of Chora, that was built in the Middle Ages and the Cave of the Apocalypse were the main reasons that Patmos had this important international distinction.
At the beginning each September, the prefectural government of the Dodecanese in cooperation with the municipality of Patmos and the monastery organize an international festival of religious music in the open air of the Cave of the Apocalypse, which lasts 10 days with the participation of choirs, orchestras and other musical ensembles from Greece and foreign interpret works of classical and contemporary music with a common religious sentiment.
mythology, Patmos was a present from
Zeus to his daughter
Artemis, goddess of hunting and young women. She was worshipped here in
antiquity, and the monastery of St. John was built on her temple.
The island has probably been inhabited since prehistoric times, and it went through the same changes as the rest of the Dodecanese. It paid tribute to Athens in the 5th century BC, belonged to the Macedonians in the 4th century BC, and was taken by the Romans in the 2nd century BC.
The Romans used Patmos as a place for exiles, and that's how St. John ended up here. He was ostracized from Miletus by the Roman governor for preaching the Christian faith in AD95, and stayed here for two years. The island was practically deserted during Byzantine years and was given to a monk named Christodoulos in 1088, and he started planning the monastery.
In the 11th century the work on the monastery started, and its power was to extend over the island's borders, to such a degree that the island was never occupied by neither Turks nor Venetians. The only attacks came from pirates now and again.
In 1912 the island was invaded by Italian forces, and liberated in 1948.
What to see
Whether you are
interested in history and religion or not, the Monastery of St. John is a must.
Its real name is Agios Ioannis o Theologos ("St. John the Theologist") and it
looks like a huge fortress above Chora. In fact, it was built as a fortress in
the 16th century, since the island needed some sort of defense when pirates
In the monastery you can visit the Byzantine church decorated with exquisite style frescoes and the Byzantine icon of St John, donated to the monastery by the empiror of Byzantium Alexios Komninos, in a crypte inside the the church are the relics of the blessed monk Christodoulos , worth to see also is the treasury and the museum. The two chapels next to the church of St. John are dedicated one to the Virgin Mary and the other to the blessed Christodoulos.
The Cave of Revelation lies between Chora and Skala and is where St. John had his vision. There is a crack in the roof where Jesus appeared to him and John dictated his vision to his disciple Prochorus. In the cave you can see a cross engraved on the rock which according to tradition, was made by Saint John. The Cave is surrounded by the monastery, which stands out with its white colour. A few steps carved in the rock leads in to the monastery. The Cave is at the lowest level of the monastery of St. John, and you can go there passing from the chapels of St. Nicholas, St. Artemios and St. Anna, which is next to the Cave.
The nunnery of Zoodochos Pigis ("Life-giving Source") lies in Chora and can sometimes be visited, but the most active nunnery is outside the village and is called Evangelismos.
When visiting all of the above, make sure you are dressed properly: women must wear long skirts and have covered shoulders, men must wear long trousers.
If you are up for a climb, visit the monastery of Profitis Elias
("Prophet Elias") where you'll get a fantastic view since it is the
highest point of the island (269m). On a clear day you'll see as far as
the islands of Lipsi, Leros and futher to Turkey.
In Kastelli hill are the ruins of the ancient citadel of the ancient capital of the island with a fortification wall and the foundations of three towers. The foundations of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo are near to the church of St. Constantine
In general, Chora is well worth walking around in. It is built like a labyrinth to keep the pirates away, and has many nice houses and little shops. In Chora also is the home and of Emmanuel Xanthos one of the founding members of the Society of Friends that was the first revolousinary organisation during the war of Indipendence in Greece.
What to do
: The island is quite windy, so it is good for windsurfing Renting a car
or a moped is also a good idea so you can explore the
island on your own.
Patmos has football and basketball stadiums and tournaments of Beach volleyball are organized in the summer. There are also daytrips to the small neighbouring islands Marathi, Arki and Lipsi. At Grikos you can rent a small sailing boat.
There are about 20 beaches to choose between. Explore the little bays and find your own paradise. There are both pebble beaches and sand beaches. Nudists go to Psili Ammos, as well as people in swimming costumes. The sandy beach of Grikos looks like a lake because there a small island in the front. another nice beach is in the area of Petra The beach is lovely Petra. Diakofti has fine sand and Kampos beach is one of the best in Patmos. Other beaches are Merikas. Vagia, Aspri ,Agriolivado and also some nice beaches can be found on small islands around Patmos
:You'll find some bars and discos in Chora and Skala. The atmosphere is more relaxed than anything else, but you can enjoy some good nights out.
There are several taverns in Chora and Skala, but also in the smaller villages Grikos and Kambos. Local specialties are different dishes of fish and seafood such as squid stuffed with rice, a specialty known to other islands of the Dodecanese, octopus stew and octopus grilled as well as local cheeses and sweets
You can get many handmade things on the island, and there are several art shops as well. The most typical souvenirs are to do with St. John, though, and icons are sold everywhere.
There is only one bus on the island connecting Chora with Skala and the other villages. Taxis are quite easy to find, and you can also rent cars and bikes. There is also a boat that goes to several beaches, but it is cancelled if it gets too windy.
The most common way to get to Patmos is to get a flight to Athens and then take the boat from there. Patmos is also connected with the other Dodecanese with catamarans and hydrofoils, in summer the small ship Patmos Star goes to Leros and Lipsi.A quick way to get to Patmos is to fly to Leros which is only half an hour with the catamaran, Patmos is connected as well with the islands of Mykonos, Samos and Tinos.
Facts about Patmos
Size: 35 km2
International code: 0030
Population: about 2500
Local code: 22470
Cash machine: Yes
Health centre: 31211
Highest Mountain:Profitis Elias, 269m
Port Police: 31231
Price rate: Average
Tourist Information Office: