Greek Islands Guide

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The Greek island of Patmos is the northernmost of the main islands in the Dodecanese island chain. There is no airport on the island but it can be reached via ferries from Piraeus about 160 nautical miles away, as well as from many of the other islands in the Dodecanese. This small island with its long complicated coastline is rich in natural beauty, and is a popular tourist destination, with some holidaymakers returning year after year.

Skala is the islands capital and largest settlement on Patmos. The town boasts a charming harbour and a good selection of shops, bars, cafes and taverna's. Sights worth a visit include the remains of an ancient acropolis, the church of Agia Paraskevi of Cavos, which dates from the 17th century, and the convent of Zoodochos Pigi. Located in the bay is the small island of Petrokaravo, which is easily reached via local boats.

Chora is a village originating from medieval times, that surrounds the Byzantine Monastery of Saint John. Made up of whitewashed houses built in the Aegean style, it has its own small community, that is amply serviced with a fine selection of shops, bars and taverna's. Chora is considered to be the heart of the island and has become a popular attraction. From the village, it is possible to walk down to the port by way of an old donkey path.

The Monastery of Saint John the Divine, also known as the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, is an Orthodox monastery with a fortress-like appearance, that dominates this part of the island. The monastery is a complicated mix of interconnecting courtyards, chapels, stairways, arcades, galleries and roof terraces. Contained in its walls are fragments from an ancient temple of Artemis which was destroyed during the 11th century. The main chapel is simply superb, as is an adjoining chapel which has on display a number of frescos that date from the 12th century. The Treasury houses a collection of religious icons, including an unusual mosaic icon of Agios Nikolaos, plus a parchment that granted the island to Khristodhoulos, which dates from the 11th century.

Patmos 5Considered by many as being the most important site on the island is the Cave of the Apocalypse, the entrance to which is part of a monastery complex of whitewashed buildings situated between Chora and Scala. It is claimed that it is here where Saint John wrote the "Apocalypse", one of the most important texts from eschatological literature. The first building in the complex, is the chapel of Saint Anna chapel, which was built, according to tradition, in 1088 by Saint Christodoulos. In the first part of the 17th century Bishop Gregory, of Caesaria founded and built the monastery. Around 1800 Makarios Kalogeras annexed the original buildings and added some new ones. Today the complex is looked after by the monks who keep them in excellent condition.

Patmos 6The Cave of the Apocalypse is 4 metres deep and tours are given by one of the monks from the monastery, who will point out to visitors a cross engraved in the wall which it is claimed was the work of Saint John himself. Also pointed out will be a crack in the rock where John was supposed to have heard a voice that encouraged him to write the Apocalypse. Also here is the place where Saint John slept. In fact the Apocalypse was written by John in conjunction with a number of other other ecclesiastical authors.

Agriolivadi, is a long popular beach, with shade supplied by the trees that back on to it. Watersports are available within season, and there are a couple of taverna;s to supply refreshments. Agriolivadi is within a reasonable walking distance from Scala, but can also be easily reached by taking a taxi or the local bus.

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