Touring in the Dodecanese: Patmos

Windmills of the Monastery of St John the Theologian, Chora, Patmos, Greece - Photo by S. Lambadaridis

Windmills of the Monastery of St. John, Patmos – Photo by Sotiris Lambadaridis

5th stop: Patmos island

Patmos is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea. One of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex with a population of nearly 3,000. The highest point is Profitis Ilias, 269 metres above sea level. It is part of Kalymnos region.

Monastery of St. John and Chora of Patmos, Dodecanese, Greece

Patmos’ main communities are Chora (the capital city), and Skala, the only commercial port. Other settlements are Grikou and Kampos. The churches and communities on Patmos are of the Eastern Orthodox tradition. In 1999, the island’s historic center Chora, along with the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse, were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The monastery was founded by Saint Christodulos. Patmos is also home to the Patmian School, a notable Greek seminary.

Cave of the Apocalypse - Entrance to the Apocalypse Complex, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Patmos, GreeceCave Inscription, Patmos, GreeceInside the Monastery of St John, Patmos, GreeceInside the Monastery of St. John - Photo by S. LambadaridisInside the Monastery of St. John, Patmos – Photo by Sotiris Lambadaridis

 

Patmos is mentioned in the Christian scriptural Book of Revelation. The book’s introduction states that its author, John, was on Patmos when he was given (and recorded) a vision from Jesus. Early Christian tradition identified this writer John of Patmos as John the Apostle, though some modern scholars are uncertain. As such, Patmos is a destination for Christian pilgrimage. Visitors can see the cave where John is said to have received his Revelation (the Cave of the Apocalypse), and several monasteries on the island are dedicated to Saint John.

The earliest remains of human settlements date to the Middle Bronze Age (ca 2000 BC). They consist of pottery shards from Kastelli, the most important archaeological site so far identified.

Patmos is seldom mentioned by ancient writers. Therefore very little can be conjectured about the earliest inhabitants. In the Classical period, the Patmians prefer to identify themselves as Dorians descending from the families of Argos, Sparta and Epidaurus, further mingling with people of Ionian ancestry.

Judging from archaeological finds, Kastelli continued to play an important role on the island throughout the Ancient Greek period (ca 750 BC-323 BC).

During the 3rd century BC, in the Hellenistic period, the settlement of Patmos acquired the form of an acropolis with an improved defence through a fortification wall and towers.

Monastery of St. John the Divine, Patmos, GreeceJohn the Apostle on Patmos by Jacopo VignaliThe old Library of the Monastery of St. John, Patmos, Greece

Patmos is mentioned in the Christian scriptural Book of Revelation. The book’s introduction states that its author, John, was on Patmos when he was given (and recorded) a vision from Jesus. Early Christian tradition identified this writer John of Patmos as John the Apostle, though some modern scholars are uncertain. As such, Patmos is a destination for Christian pilgrimage. Visitors can see the cave where John is said to have received his Revelation (the Cave of the Apocalypse), and several monasteries on the island are dedicated to Saint John.

After the death of John of Patmos, possibly around 100 AD, a number of Early Christian basilicas were erected on Patmos. Among these was a Grand Royal Basilica in honour of Saint John, built ca 300-350 at the location where the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian stands today.

The Port (Skala) of Patmos Island, Greece
 

Early Christian life on Patmos, however, barely survived Muslim raids from the 7th to the 9th century. During this period, the Grand Basilica was destroyed. In the 11th century, the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos gave Reverend Father Christodoulos the complete authority over the island of Patmos, as well as the permission to build a monastery on the island. The construction of the monastery started in 1101.

Beaches on Patmos

The beach at Meloi, within walking distance of Skala, Patmos, GreeceAgriolivadi bay, Patmos, GreeceCape Yenoupa, Patmos, GreecePatmos island - Photo by Sotiris LambadaridisPatmos island – Photo by Sotiris Lambadaridis
 
 

 

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