Patmos is a small island that sits most northern of Greece’s Dodecanese islands. A significant Christian pilgrimage site, this island is where John of Patmos (St. John the Theologian) is said to have written the Book of Revelations and received a vision of the Apocalypse. Located on the island is a 11th-century monastery that overlooks whitewashed houses of the hilltop capital, Hora (also known as Chora). Patmos is an ideal Greek destination for nature lovers of all kinds, as it is interwoven with coastlines, projects sheer cliffs and protrudes large rocky landscape from volcanic activity of times past. Here we will see why the island of Patmos is home of the Apocalypse and reasons why one should visit.
The Holy Cave of the Apocalypse
Revelation 1:9 (ESV) is a book of the Bible where Saint John speaks of the island Patmos saying, “I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” It is said that the Book of Revelation was written in 95 A.D. in the Holy Cave of the Apocalypse where Saint John heard God speaking to him. In Revelation (6:9-11) John depicts the opening of the Fifth Seal at the end of time, and the distribution of white robes to “those who had been slain for the work of God and for the witness they had borne.”
A place of exile by the Romans because of its steep morphology, Patmos is where Saint John the Theologian found refuge during the 1st century when he was exiled by Emperor Domitian. However, it is not clear if John was imprisoned to live here or if he was banished. The Holy Cave of the Apocalypse, where John is known to have seen visions that were interpreted as the final days, is now enclosed by the Greek Orthodox Chapel of St. Anne, where devout Christians still worship.
The Holy Monastery of St. John
The Holy Monastery of St. John the Theologian was originally built as a fortress to protect from the threat of Pirates and Turks. It was built on top of the remains of a church and an earlier temple, Artemis. Constructed by Christodoulos in 1088, it overlooks the harbor in the town of Chora. This monastery is known as a place of worship to devout Christians and is the center of cultural and religious traditions like Holy Week and Easter celebrations. Comprised of ten chapels, ninety nine cells and a library, it has 890 handwritten codes and 13,000 documents about its history.
Chora, also known as Hora, spills out from the walls of the Monastery of St. John the Theologian. Numerous times, Hora of Patmos has been referred to as the queen of all Horas (many of the islands have villages called Hora) because of the monastery and Byzantine residences unique to the island. It is highly sought after by foreigners as the whitewashed houses, mansions, captains residences, narrow streets and alleyways date back to the 15th century giving Hora of Patmos a luxurious feel. During the day, the whitewashed houses actually reflect sunlight making it necessary to wear glasses and sunscreen mid day. Evening walks are often preferred as they impress a romantic ambiance.
Patmos is surrounded by beaches from every side. Some of these beaches can only be accessed via boat. Of the most popular beaches are Skala, Agriolivado and Livadi Geranou. Rainbow Beach is one worth visiting as it is filled with multi colored pebbles ranging from milky orange to a bright egg yolk yellow. The combination of all the colors are beautiful! Joined to the free standing rock of Kallikatsou is Petra, a sandy beach that speaks of legendary tales according to the locals. Whether you’re just looking to enjoy the sand or clear blue waters, there will be plenty of beaches to explore. All are uniquely impressive and rich in natural beauty.
Among the many reasons to take a tour of Greece, the island of Patmos is certainly one of them as its unparalleled landscape will leave any visitor desiring to come back. The history, beaches, culture and food are an experience one will not forget.