The Sacred Island of Patmos is globally known as the place where Apostle John received (and wrote down) the Book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse. It is the last book of the New Testament and is classified as apocalyptic literature.
Evangelismos Monastery towers over charming Chora, the capital of Patmos. It resembles more like a fortress than a monastery and is quite impressive to see.
The Cave of Revelation
Even if you’re not religious, the Cave of Revelation is one of the most significant sites in Patmos. This tiny grotto, situated below the monastery, is believed to be the place where St. John wrote the Book of Revelation while in exile on the island.
During this time period in history, Christianity was considered by the Roman Empire as an unwelcome cult. Several Christians were prosecuted and exiled. Among them was the apostle and evangelist, John of Patmos. He had received a series of visions during his banishment, and the Book of Revelation was based on these visions.
While in captivity on Patmos, the apostle slept in this cave. During the visions, he heard from a voice that he had been sent to tell the seven churches of Asia what was to happen in the end times. He later included this information in his Letter to the Churches, and this caused a major change in Christian theology.
A visit to the Cave of Revelation is a deeply spiritual experience. It is not just because of its history and legends, but because it embodies the mystical sense of prayer. The attentive can see in the Cave a reflection of their own innermost heart. In a world of yachts, nudity and hook-ups, the Cave can help us to remember what it is that truly matters.
The Monastery of St. John
Patmos is home to a monastery that is as impressive as the grotto where it was built. The Monastery of St John, or Ayios Ioannis Theologos in Greek, is a fortress-style monastery that was founded on the island in 1088 AD by Saint Christodoulos the Latrinos. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and dominates the island’s Chora, its main town.
According to church tradition, it was here that St. John received the vision that became the Book of Revelation (or Apocalypse) during his exile from Rome. He reportedly wrote his Gospel here, including the last book of the New Testament. The cave is also said to be the location of the meeting between Jesus and his mother Mary, as described in the Bible.
In addition to being one of the top attractions on the island, the Monastery is renowned for its library. It is regarded as the largest collection of ancient manuscripts in Greece outside Mount Athos. It contains more than 1,200 manuscripts written on parchment, vellum or scrolls, including the original manuscript of Mark’s Gospel from the 6th century.
The Monastery also houses a small Ecclesiastical Museum that features valuable Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons, among other treasures. It is open to the public during the summer months. During Easter, the Monastery is a center of religious activity as well as celebrations. There is a re-enactment of the Descent from the Cross on Good Friday, and processions of epitaphios take place during Holy Week.
The Folklore Museum of Patmos
Patmos looks like the kind of picture-perfect Greek island a travel agent would put on a postcard. A lively port, narrow streets and beaches with crystal clear waters. However, a glance at the Byzantine monastery that looms over charming Chora (Patmos town) reminds visitors that this island is special.
According to early Christian tradition, John of Patmos penned the Book of Revelation after being banished to this island in A.D. 95-97 during the persecution of Domitian. This is why the Cave of Revelation and the Monastery of St. John are considered World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Every year, visitors from all over the world come to visit these holy sites and witness the sacred relics they hold. Some are on a religious pilgrimage while others are simply enjoying their Greek island vacation.
Located in Chora, the Folklore Museum of Patmos is housed in a 17th century mansion that aims to highlight the traditional aspect of this island. The exhibits include wooden furniture, old photographs and Russian-style icons.
The island of Patmos is connected to the rest of the Dodecanese by regular ferry itineraries that stop at the commercial port Skala and the main town of Chora. The ferries offer regular routes to the islands of Samos, Kos, Leros and Nisyros. The island is also served by domestic flights from Athens and a few charter companies.
The Beaches of Patmos
The island of Patmos is surrounded by lovely beaches that attract tourists from all over the world. From organized beaches with beach bars and sun beds to secluded rocky coves, each one offers a different kind of experience.
For decades, Psili Ammos was a “secret” beach of Patmos, and only a few people knew about it. Now it’s considered one of the most iconic beaches in the world, but it still isn’t as popular as some other “secret” beaches that have been brought to the limelight during the internet era.
Another secluded beach near Skala is Petra, with large pebbles and deep water that are great for adults. It is also home to a beach bar and sunbeds, and is protected by a small islet.
The most popular beach of Patmos is Kambos, a very cosmopolitan beach that attracts visitors who want to soak up the sun and mix with other tourists. It is also very safe for children and has plenty of facilities for water sports.
The north side of the island boasts gorgeous beaches as well. Agriolivado is a partially organized beach with tamarisk trees that offer shade. It’s a good choice for families and has a nice beach bar and taverna. Lambi is a secluded, unorganized beach with a beautiful sea, but it’s exposed to the wavy summer wind, Meltemia.