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The most important sightseeing of Patmos island, part of the Dodecanese islands, is the Monastery of Saint John, located on top of a hill above Chora.
Greece » Dodecanese

Why Visit
This monastery is surrounded by walls and looks like a fortress. In the middle way between Chora and Skala, the two main villages of Patmos, there is the Cave of Apocalypse, where according to tradition Apostle John was inspired the Book of Revelation. Many other monasteries can be found around the island, a place with intense religious character and long history.

The most picturesque village is Chora, with white houses, paved paths and great view to the Aegean Sea. Skala is also a nice place with many tourist facilities. Due to the port, Skala is the busiest spot of the island. Very nice beaches are located on the northern side of the island, such as Agriolivado and Livadi Geranou, which are also organized. The rest of the beaches are secluded and perfect for privacy.

This guide of Patmos offers all the necessary information about holidays on the island. Located north ofLeros, Patmos can be combined for holidays with other Greek islands. Patmos is also a frequent stop for cruise ships to Kusadasi and Ephesus.

Ancient times
According to ancient mythology, the island of Patmos was first named Litois, in honour of the Goddess Artemis who was also called Litoida because she was the daughter of Lito. Legend says that the island sunk into the sea and that Artemis, with the help of Apollo, managed to persuade Zeus to bring the island back to the surface. As a proof of devotion, the inhabitants of the island named it Litois. Patmos is also linked to another legend, the one of Orestes. It is said that he fled to the island after murdering his mother Clytemnestra, and was hunted by the Erynies.

The island of Patmos is inhabited since 3,000 BC, but the identity of its first inhabitants is still unknown. Some believe that the Kares, the Leleges and the Pelasgous were the first settlers while some think that the Dorians were the first inhabitants, followed by the Ionians. Finds have excavated various buildings, cemeteries, fortresses and evidence of an ancient acropolis, testifying the existence of a densely populated area in the past. During the Peloponnesian Wars, the Lacedemonians came to the island to escape from the Athenians. Ruins testify about the flourishing of the island during this period.

However, the island of Patmos declined when the Romans conquered it. It was used as a place of exile for convicts. This is how Apostle John came to Patmos, exiled by the Roman Emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus in 95 AC. In Patmos, Apostle John conveyed the inhabitants to Christianity and wrote the Book of Revelation, the Apocalypse. Patmos then became a place of worshipping and pilgrimage and actually the culture and history of Patmos is strongly connected to the Apocalypse of Saint John.

Byzantine times: Construction of the Monastery
After the division of the Roman Empire in 284 AC, Christianity was officially recognised and the Byzantine Empire flourished. During the Byzantine times, the inhabitants of Patmos built a Grand Royal Basilica in honour of Saint John, where the monastery stands today. The island suffered from the Arab raids from the 6th to the 9th century AC, a period during which the Grand Basilica of Saint John was destroyed. In 1085, the Reverent Father Christodoulos was forced by the Turks to abandon its temple in Asia Minor and went to the island of Kos were he founded a monastery. There, he met the monk Arsenios Skinouris who asked him his help to build the Monastery of Saint John in Patmos.

The construction of the monastery started in 1101, after the permission of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios Komninos the 1st, who gave to Christodoulos the complete authority over the island of Patmos. The fame of the monastery grew and a settlement started to expend around it. During the end of the 12th century, the island of Patmos was transformed into a large commercial centre. The monastery acquired a second commercial vessel.

In 1207, the Venetians conquered Patmos and the reign was given to the Duke of Naxos. Supported by the Duke of Naxos, the island became a semi-autonomous monastic state and gained a great wealth and influence.In 1340, the Knights of Saint John who had seized Rhodes conquered the island of Patmos. In 1522, the Turks came to the island and appointed a representative on the island. After a while, they left the island, which they just forced to pay some taxes.

Ottoman occupation
When the Turkish-Venetian Wars ended, tranquillity returned to Patmos and the island flourished, becoming once again an important commercial centre. Massive fortifications were built around the monastery as a protection from the pirates. In 1655, Patmos was governed by the monks and prospered again. Its growth stopped in 1659, when Francesco Morozini, the leader of the Venetians, conquered and destroyed the island of Patmos. With shipping, commerce and the efforts of the inhabitants, Patmos regained its lost nobility, glamour and prosperity.

During the early 18th century, the island's wealth was separated into secular and monastic entities. ThePatmian School was founded by Makarios Kalogeras in 1713 near the cave of the Apocalypse. The Russians conquered the island in 1770, after the Turkish-Venetian War. The Greek Revolution started in 1821 and managed to gain the independence of Greece in 1832. Nevertheless, the treaty signed in London did not include the islands of the Dodecanese as part of the newly built Greek State, and therefore fell again under Turkish occupation. One of the founders of Filiki Etaireia which took part in Greek Revolution wasEmmanuel Xanthos who was from Patmos.

Recent years
The Italians occupied all the islands of the Dodecanese in 1912, with of course Patmos, and remianed there until 1943, when the Germans took over the island. In 1945, the Germans left and the island of Patmos remained autonomous until 1948 when it joined the rest of independent Greece with the rest of the Dodecanese Islands.

Museums - Archeological
Blessed with natural beauty, Patmos is a small and sacred island, known worldwide as the place where Saint John wrote the Book of Apocalypse. The most important archaeological findings were traced in the region of Kasteli and bear witness to the first flourishing period of the island, during the 4th century BC.

Considering the religious significance of Patmos, the island is home to a well-equipped Ecclesiastical Museum which lies in the Monastery of Saint John. Its varied collection consists of many vessels and jewellery, handmade vestments, holy icons and rare books.

At the centre of Chora, guests can visit the Folklore Museum of Patmos which highlights the traditional aspect of the island through a great collection of old -fashioned items like family relics, paintings, photos and other items. The museum is housed in a 17th century mansion.

Skala Beach, Agriolivado, Kambos beach, Grikos beach, Geranou, Agios Nikolaos, Diakofti, Lambi, Lefkes, Loukakia, Meloi, Petra, Psili Ammos, Vagia, Alikes

Religious Monasteries and Churches
Patmos is the holy island of Revelation and one of the most peaceful destinations in Greece. It is probably the only Greek island where the presence of the Monastery of Saint John, the beautiful monastic complex, has had a major impact on its history and evolution.

The architecture of Patmos is strongly related to the foundation of the Monastery of Saint John, the most unique architectural marvel in Greece. Built in the 11th century, the monastery dedicated to the disciple of Christ, Saint John the Theologian, and has been the centre of Greek orthodox religion ever since.

The highlights of Patmos architecture are seen in the beautiful settlement presenting a plethora of whitewashed mansions and Aegean style houses that embrace the fortified monastery. A house in Patmos is divided in two parts serving basic needs of the locals with a lovely flourishing garden and storage areas in the basement. The Byzantine structural elements which are often seen in the capital testify the island&'s historical importance throughout the ages.

Following the economical development of Patmos island, we see the appearance of two-storey luxurious houses and mansions that very much resemble each other. Due to the constant pirates attacks, the settlement was fortified, not with walls but according to the structural plan of the houses that allowed no openings and no special appearance. Still the safest place in Patmos was the monastery of Saint John where locals found shelter. Chora is built around the fortified monastery and charms all visitors to this day.