The imposing presence of the fortified monastery of St. John towering over the main port and city of Chora renders Patmos as the island with the most intense religious atmosphere within the Dodecanese islands. The past few years it has developed into a popular destination, the tourist infrastructure of which is a guarantee of pleasant stay. The peaceful mountainous highlands and its small size predispose visitors for calm holidays. The island covers an area of 35 sq.km and has a population of about 2800 inhabitants.
History - Culture
The island was first inhabited in the prehistoric years, and its course through history followed that of the rest of the Dodecanese. During Roman rule, the island was deserted and turned into a place of exile. Yet, a single event of universal importance shed holy light on those dark years in the history of Patmos. St. John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, lived here in exile after his persecution by the Romans in 94 AD, and wrote The Apocalypse in the Holy Cave of Revelation. Eons later, in the 11th century, the island prospered as a religious centre that enjoyed privileged treatment by the Venetians and the Knights of the order of St. John, and developed commercial activities with the Venetian regime in Crete. In 1537, Patmos came under Turkish rule and in 1669, Venetian refugees from Crete found shelter in Patmos. In the 16th century, navigation developed significantly, and the people of Patmos excelled as captains, shipbuilders and traders. Thus, the whole island flourished. Additionally, they became fine stone, wood and marble craftsmen. Later on, in 1713, the famous Patmiada School was founded from which great men graduated, one of them being Emmanuel Xanthos who originated from the island and was one of the founders of the "Filiki Etairia" (Friendly Society) which orchestrated the Greek War for Independence. After decades of enlightening the Greek populace and amassing resources, their cause was awarded with the successful revolt that made Greece a free country after long centuries of foreign domination.
A unique feeling of unbiased, heartfelt piety prevails on this island. This spiritual experience emanates from the religious tradition of Patmos, as no lesser text then the Apocalypse itself was written of its land. Furthermore, an assortment of impressive monuments amazes visitors. The castle-monastery of St. John the Evangelist stands watchfully over the main town of Chora. It was built in 1088 and is a typical medieval monastery structure from where the view is marvelous. The monastery also houses an impressive library, one of the most important in the world, with more than 1100 hand-written medieval scrolls, including documents of the Byzantine Empire. The Holy Cave of Revelation is located on the route from Chora to the village of Skala, and within this Holy Place, St. John wrote The Apocalypse. Near the cave there is the Patmiada School, while the charming chapel of Profitis Elias is situated on the tallest peak of the island. The ruins of the citadel of the ancient town Fora, found on the outskirts of the harbor of Skala, along with numerous churches with breath-taking view, are also worth seeing. A group of beautiful islets surrounds Patmos, and all are easily accessible by boat. The beach of Lambi is strewn with multi-colored pebbles that glare in the sunlight, while the sandy beach of Psili Ammos is framed by trees that stand virtually on the edge of the water.
As a result of intensified interest in the island, Patmos is well-organized with top quality hotels, shopping places, means of transportation, plenty of restaurants, taverns, coffee shops, pastry shops, clubs, and bars in Chora, Grigos, Kambos and Skala. Visitors may choose excitement over tranquility or the other way round, according to their preferences. Water sports are available on at least five crystal clear and beautiful beaches. Local cuisine is delicious; cheese pies, "pougi" and a variety of sweets are some of the specialties. Patmos is also noted for its hand-made embroideries, best buys for those who wish to take something back home from their vacation. Local festivities, where visitors can take part, are colorful and exciting, if one wishes to join in the fun. Locals are most receptive and hospitable, and such a move will be most welcome. Easter is a nice time for someone to be in Patmos as the celebration and the atmosphere prevailing on the island in these holy days is unique. Again, visitors are prompted to participate in the festivities.
Ferryboats depart from the ports of Piraeus and Rafina to Skala all year round.
Ferryboats and speedboats link Patmos, Kalymnos, Kos, Lipsi, Leros, Nissyros, Rhodes, Tilos, Megisti, Symi, Naxos, Paros, Lesvos, Agios Efstratios, Lemnos, Samos, Mytilene, Skyros, Icaria and Kavala throughout the year.
In Chora, there is the Ecclesiastical Museum with an exhibition of valuable ecclesiastical findings, vestments and icons. One can also visit the Folk Art Museum.
Spiritual, religious, cultural, educational, sporting (water sports, windsurfing, canoe, trekking).
Useful Telephone Numbers:
Chora Area Code: 22470-
Police Station: 22470-31303
Telephone Company: 22470-31399
Post Office: 22470-31316
Municipality Tourist Information Office: 22470-31666
Taxi Station: 22470-31225
Health Centre: 31577