Patmos is the most sacred island in the Aegean. Recognised by Christians and keen historians as the place where Saint John wrote the Book of Revelation, Patmos was designated as the “Holy Island” by the Greek Parliament in 1981 and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.
It’s believed that Patmos was used as a place of exile by the Romans due to its unique morphology. St. John found safe refuge on Patmos when he was exiled by the Emperor Domitian in the 1st century A.D. According to the Book of Revelation that was written in 95 A.D., God spoke directly to St. John in the Holy Cave of the Apocalypse. The cave features the relic of fingerprints that can be traced to St. John himself and is open to devout Christians.
The cave was later turned into a place of worship by the monk Christodoulos Latrinós in the 11th century. Latrinós greatest legacy is the Holy Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos that was built in 1088 and has served as a cultural and religious centre since its first day. Each year, thousands of devout Christians flock to the Holy Monastery for Easter celebrations.
The Monastery sits high on the hill above Chora and is visible from every part of the island. As you enter the foreboding gate at the front of the monastery you come to the main courtyard. The eastern side is noteworthy for the arch with four curves and many frescoes that remember the miracles that were performed by St. John. The monastery houses no less than ten chapels with the most impressive being the main chapel with its marble floor, regal decorations and wood-carved icon stand.
Today, the island of Patmos is shared between a local population of 3,000, those looking for a religious experience, and holidaymakers seeking a picturesque Greek island escape. The 34 sq. kilometre island features 63 kilometres of coastline and is one of the smallest inhabited islands in the Aegean. It’s situated between the islands of Leros, Fourni and Ikaria.
What Patmos lacks in size it makes up for it with a rich history, diverse landscape, and a varied selection of beaches that can satisfy those looking for beach bars and Greek island postcard scenery, as well as those looking for solitary coves that offer moments of tranquillity. Patmos’ rich cultural and religious heritage is evident even on the beaches with many signs prohibiting topless and nude bathing.