Located in the southeastern Aegean Sea, at the northwestern end of the Dodecanese, it’s famous as the place where Saint John the Divine wrote his Book of Revelation as a hermit. The island’s biggest draw remains the massive Monastery of Saint John, built in 1088, and dominating the town. A short walk down the slope, halfway along the road between Hora and Skala, is the cave where Saint John himself reputedly lived while writing Revelation. You can enter the cave and share something of what must have been the ultimate other-worldly experience. The island also has an ecclesiastical museum. Patmos is referred as the Jerusalem of the Aegean. It was on this island that St John wrote his divinely inspired Revelation the Apocalypse, the last book of the New Testament.
Today it is a place of pilgrimage for both Orthodox and western Christians, as well as the more profane sun and sand worshippers.
Patmos interesting landscape features low barren hills succeeded by small plateau, while its lacy coastline is deeply intended by tens of promontories forming countless picturesque bays and coves. With a mostly dry climate, the island is regularly visited by north winds, bathing into the sunrays for 3000 hours out of a year. Situated at a distance of 158 nautical miles from the mainland port of Piraeus, it covers an area of 34 square kilometers with greatest length of about 25 kilometers.
Patmos was mentioned only on rare occasions in Greek history by ancient Greek authors in their works. The Carians are supposed to have been its prehistoric inhabitants. The name of the island “Patmos” believed to be related to Latmos, which is mountain’s name at the area of Ancient Karia, a land in Asia Minor, where the goddess Artemis was particularly worshipped.
In that era the Dorians first settled on Patmos followed by the Ions .In the Greek mythology Orestis the son of Agamemnon the General of the Greeks at the Trojan war, was persecuted by the Furies because he killed his mother Clytaemnestra because she had killed his father, find shelter on Patmos.
The walls of the 6th and 4th centuries BC pertaining to the ancient acropolis, located on top of the Castelli hill, indicate the location of the ancient city. Judging by the well-preserved remains it has been inferred that within the acropolis there had been the temple of god Apollo and Dionysous as well as the hippodrome. Old cemeteries, fragments of vessels, engravings on relief, inscriptions, tombstones and other sculptures either scattered or inlaid in walls of Christian orthodox churches bear witnesses to the prosperity of ancient Patmos. Throughout the first years of antiquity goddess Diana was particularly worshipped in Patmos and she was believed to be the protector of the island. Under the domination of the Romans the island was reduced to decadence. It was abandoned and was solely used as an exile land.
In the year 96 AD Saint John the Divine was banished in Patmos by Emperor Domitianos in punishment for having been preaching the Gospels in Ephesus. This is the reason why Patmos became the center of orthodoxy and has been renowned ever since. It was on this island that Apostle Saint John the Divine wrote the Apocalypse stating in the preface: I resided in an island called Patmos to preach the will of God and show my faith in the martyrdom of Jesus Christ. During his exile Saint John the Divine lived in a cave, which is now called “the Apocalypse cave”. After the death of the emperor in the year 97 AD, John returned to Ephesus where he lived to a ripe old age. A text entitled “Journeys and miracles of Saint John the Divine” written by his disciple Prochoros was accepted by Byzantine tradition and the Christians of Patmos.
In the year 1088 AD Saint Christodoulos Latrinos, born in Nikaea of Vithinia, landed on Patmos. He was a renowned founder of monasteries resorting to Patmos after having tried to establish monasteries on the isles of Kos and Leros and falling foul of their inhabitants. The Saint asked the Byzantine emperor Alexios Komninos I to allot him the island, which he had found to be “barren and uninhabited”, to found a monastery in honor of John the Evangelist. The emperor signed the concession documents and allotted him the island of Patmos. Together with his companions the saint founded a monastery in Patmos dedicated to Saint John the Divine, which was destined to develop to one of the most brilliant centers of the Orthodox faith in the Aegean Sea.
The island was conquered by the Turks (in the year 1537) after an unconditional surrender. That was the reason why the isle enjoyed certain privileges that its conquerors granted. In the 15th century refugees from Constantinople settled in Patmos while in the 17th century Cretans from Heraklion sought asylum in the monastery. During the dark period of Turkish occupation the monastery of Patmos was a hothouse for educational activities of the highest caliber and it also protected the mortal remains of Greeks. More specifically, the establishment of the “School of Patmos” in the year 1713 turned the island to an important educational center. The patriots Xanthos and Themelis, founding members of the «Society of Friends” whose purpose of existence was to enable Greeks to throw off the shackles of the Turkish yoke, were both glorious children of the isle of Patmos.
The field of shipping had also been developed since Patmos had commercial relations with Europe and Asia Minor and local handicraft products were exported. In the year 1659 the Venetians under Francisco Morosini plundered the entirety of the island with the exception of the monastery. Even though Patmos took active part in the Greek war of independence, it had to remain under Turkish occupation according to the conditions of the Constantinople Treaty (1832) and therefore it was detached from the new western course of the Greek state and its prosperity started to decline. In the year 1912 Patmos, together with the other islands of the Dodecanese was occupied by the Italians.
Festivities & Local Traditions
The Festival of Taste and Tradition is held on the port of Patmos at the end of July.
Patmos is not only a place of pilgrimage and religious tourism, but also an island where good swimming can be had. The best beaches are near Skala, with an organized sandy beach at Kambos. Quieter are the beaches at Vagia, Lambi and Aghios Nikolaos. Some swear by the beach at Psili Ammos, meaning Fine Sand.
Getting to Patmos
By sea from Piraeus, Samos (flying dolphins), Rhodes, Kos, Kalymnos and Leros as well as Syros in the Cyclades. The above mentioned Dodecanese islands have airports from where visitors can reach Patmos through regular ferry connections, especially during the summer season.
Police Tel: 0030 22470 31000
Tourist Police Tel: 0030 22470 31303, 31100
Hospital Tel: 0030 22470 31211, 32669
Health Centre Tel: 0030 22470 31577
Port Authorities Tel: 0030 22470 34131, 31231
Customs Office Tel: 0030 22470 31312
Pharmacy Tel: 0030 22470 31500
Veterinary Tel: 0030 22470 23642
Town Hall of Patmos Tel: 0030 22470 31235, 31666, 31058
Tourist Information Tel: 0030 22470 31235
Telephone Service at Chora Tel: 0030 22470 31299
Post Office at Skala Tel: 0030 22470 31316
National Bank of Greece in Patmos Tel: 0030 22470 31591, 32363
Monastery Tel: 0030 22470 31398, 31234, 31276
Cave of the Apocalypse Tel: 0030 22470 31234
Taxi Station Tel: 0030 22470 31225
Official Island website: www.patmos.gov.gr
Sources: www.dodekanissaweb.gr, www.greeka.com, www.patmosislandinfo.gr and www.gnto.gr