Declared the Holy Island by ministerial decree signs at the port warn that nudism and another indecent behavior will not be tolerated.Patmos historical and religious significance is evedent. Patmos is part of the Dodecanese group of islands in the Aegean,The Dodecanese literally,12 islands,have maneged through their unique past to amass one of the more unusual and more compelling collections of culture and architecture in the Mediterranean basin.After Dorians settled there in ancient times,the region captured in 1309 by the Knights of The order of St.John. Patmos only 40 miles from the Turkish coast.The historic Monastery of St.John is situated in the island’s historic capital, Chora.
In ancient times,the people of Patmos worshiped Artemis,goddes of the hunt,who was said to have raised the island from the sea.Orestes built Grand temple to Artemis after seeking refuge on Patmos from the fruise who were pursuing him for murdering his mother, Clytemnestra.
While St.John was in exile from Ephesus,St.John established a Christian colony here and purportedly wrote the book of Revelations in a grotto overlooking the main town.In the 4th century CE,when the Christian faith spread with Byzantine Empire,a basilica replaced the razed Temple of Artemis.In the 11th century,the fortified monastery of St.John was built on a hill that surveys the entire island.Until recent centuries,only monks inhabited the island,but news of its austere rocky mountains and serene beaches eventually spread. “I had fixed my trip to Patmos for the 11’th of August at two o’clock in the morning.The nearest way thither is half by land and kalf by water.The ruins of Ephesus lie upon this road,nothing could be more inviting.It was desirable to make long distance from Smyrna to Scala Nuova in one day,to avoid the dangers incidentally arising from malaria of the Plain of Ephesus and the robbers infesting the vicinity:Hence it was requisite to start very early,and continue the Journey very late.”
Patmos today is lively and sophisticated,and thus far has managed to successfully strike a delicate balance between todays’s popularity and solemn past.The yellow flag with the black two headed eagle is the age old banner of Byzantine Empire and Greek Orthodox Church.
The turreted walls and imposing gateway of Monastery of St.John the Theologian make it look more like a fortress than a place worship.St.Christodoulos founded the monastery 1088,nearly 1000 years after St.John’s celebrated stay on the island.The memorial to St.John was transformed into a citadel with battlements and watch towers. As you enter the courtyard,notice the 17th century frescoes to the left that portay stories from the Mircales and Travels of St.John The Evangelist,written by John’s disciple Prochoros.To the upper right,a fresco portrays St.John’s duel with local priest of Apollo named Kynops.When the Saint threw Kynops into the water at Skala,the heathen was turned into the Stone.The rock still in the harbor,If you ask any local to point out the unfortunate heretic’s corpse.
Continoue to the Chapel of the Virgin Mary,covered with original 12th century frescoes.In 1956, tremors revealed these frescoes beneath the ones currently exhibited.The treasury guards icons, ornamented stoles,some of which were donated by Catherine The Great of Russia,a copy of St.Mark’s Gospel,and 8th century Book of Job.Look for Helkomenos,an icon painted by El Greco near the end of the exhibit.The Chapel of the Holy Christodoulos holds the remains of the monastery’s illustrious founder.Shortly after Christodoulos’ death,many visitors attempted to appropriate his saintliness by carrying away his remains,so the monks built a marble sarcophagus and covered it with a silver reliquary.
Half way uphill on the windding road that connects Chora and Skala ( 2 km from each) is a turn off another monastery,the Apocalypsis,a large, white complex of interconnected buildings.Most people come here to see the Sacred Grotto of Revelation,adjacent to the church of St.Anne.In this cave, St.John dictated the Book of Revelation,the last book of the New Testament,after hearing to voice of God proclaim “Now write what you see,wht is take place hereafter.” According to legend,when God Spoke to St.John,he cleft the ceiling of the cave with a three pronged crack representing the Holy Trinity.Silver plating Marks the spot where St.John presumably slept. 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
Built a long a graceful arc of coastline,skala is a neat and colorful port that gives only a hint of the diversity of the island’s terrain.Patmos port,Skala was not developed until the 19 th century,when fear of pirates subsided and people could live safely by the water.The main administrative buildings,which now house of the post Office and customs house,were constructed during Italian occupation(1912-1943).Today,whitewashed churches are camouflaged among the village buildings,but Skala also offers more secular features of the island:lively cafes,bars,tavernas and shops.
Skala’s amenities are all within a block or two of the waterfront.Small ferries dock opposite the line of cafes and restaurants,while larger vessels park infront of the interloping Italian bulding that houses the police and post Office.The building borders the main square,where the banksa re located.skala is on a narrow part of the island.If you walk a way from the water,you will be on the other side in 10 minutes.
From almost any part of Patmos,you can see the white houses of Chora and the majestic,gray walls of the nearby Monastery of St.John the Theologian above. Roam Chora’s labyrinthine streets,hiding gardens behind Grand doors,all snug in the shelter of the monastery,and view the patmos shoreline and outlying archipelago.because of the convoluted layout of the town it’s impossiable to give prcise directions.the map of Patmos available at kiosk and tourist shop comes with a sketchy illustration of town.Buses travel to Chora from Skala every 10 minutes.The bus drops off at the top of the hill outside the town.
Grikou has a somewhat touristy beach with watersport rentals,a few hotels and couple of restourants. Only 5 km southwest of Skala, and 5 km west of Chora, the town is visited by several buses daily from both.