Pátmos Island is the northernmost, the latest and the smallest (34.6 of our series. The chain of islands to the north along Asia Minor continues further (Foúrni, Sámos, Ikaría, etc.), but they are not the Dodecanese islands. The population of Patmos is about 3 thousand people, concentrated mainly in three villages: Skála, Hóra and Kámbos.

Island map

Patmos is famous for the Revelation of Saint John the Divine, the last book of the New Testament. It is here that it was written, as is mentioned in Revelation (Ap., 1, 9): "I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus."

Followed by St. John, we were honoured to be here too (although in our case it is not clear - because of what). The ferry arrived at the port of Skala in the late evening. Vasilios was already waiting for us in the port, he took us to one of the residential houses on a narrow street of Skala. He and his wife Maria have there the family-run apartment hotel "Villa Maria".

Our room was on the ground floor. The room is divided by a wall with an aperture without a door. It has everything you need: two large beds, kitchenette, wardrobe, table, TV, bathroom. No special frills that increases the price, but there is a sense of "home" rather than "hotel", and "home" in the centre of this Greek village. In front of the entrance door there is a patio with a table, surrounded by flowering shrubs.

The car has been taken as well as on Leros, for 2 days until the next evening for 50 euros. And the rental office is located in close proximity to the pier, so I left the car next evening in the same place where I picked it up.

The island that stretching from north to south, is richly indented with bays, two of which form a thin isthmus in the middle that divides the island into two roughly equal parts.

On this isthmus and to the south, there is the village Skála, the only port and the largest settlement in Patmos. The village was developed recently due to tourism. Along the waterfront and on the central square there are restaurants, snack bars, various shops. And in the residential area there are several hotels, including such small and homelike like ours.

Because of the narrowness of the streets, it was not possible to park outside the house, but below close to the road there is a pretty big parking lot, where I left the car. Next to the parking lot there is a small beach named after Saint John the Divine.

Apostle and Evangelist John, of course, is the main character in the history of the island, though he came here against their will, and stayed here not too long. Other historical figures that were born in Patmos are the fighters for independence of Greece: Emmanuel Xanthos and Dimitrios Themelis.

Click the images to enlarge them.

The Skala Bay ends with the marina, with several narrow wooden piers. After crossing the Isthmus (350 m) on the other side of the island, we find ourselves in the beautiful Mérika Bay.

On the hill above Skala there is Kastélli - the ancient Acropolis with the ruins of buildings of the IV century BC. At that time the Carians lived here. Unfortunately, we did not have time to go there.

To the south from Skala inland there is a road that leads towards another village, Hora that rises over a hill. Midway, at one of the serpentine road bends, there is a place for parking and gates to the territory of the main attraction of Patmos - the Cave of the Apocálypse.

A complex of buildings on the rock with several churches hangs above the Cave. Formerly, there was located a seminary, founded in 1713 and known as Patmian School. In the middle of XX century the seminary moved to new premises that were built a few meters above the slope, and the area around the cave was passed to the Monastery of St. John.

We go from the gate to the white one-story house, standing on a monolithic rock, it is the entrance to the monastery. Schedule of visits: from 8.00 to 13.30 - every day, from 16.00 to 18.00 - on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The same schedule applies for the monastery in Hora. In the entrance lodge there is a souvenir shop, where, among other things, you can buy postcards with pictures of the cave, as taking pictures inside the cave is forbidden.

Further, passing several flights of a steep staircase that was laid among white houses of the former seminary, we go down to the cave. Before the entrance the clothes proper for the holy place lie, and plates with quotations from the Revelation hang.

Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, for preaching in city of Ephesus in Asia Minor, was exiled to Patmos in 95 (according to another version - in 67). Here in the Cave, after many days of fasting, an angel appeared to him, took him to heaven and showed the future events until the Second Coming, and ordered to convey to people about everything he had seen and heard. This was done; here St. John was dictating, and his disciple Prochorus wrote down what later became the book of Revelation (or Apocalypse).

Inside the cave is arranged a church with an altar, icons, and benches. There are hollows in the wall: where St. John laid his head during sleep, where he put his hand to rise. Part of the wall has a hollow, forming something like a table, lectern, behind which Prochorus recorded that was dictated. On the ceiling there are cracks left by the earthquake mentioned in Revelation (Ap., 6, 12).

We went down to the cave without a company, none of the attendants and other visitors were there. I had a possibility, despite the ban, to take photographs inside the cave. But something apparently the fear of God, prevented me from temptation, and the picture presented here, was taken from the website of the monastery. One of the attendants, who earlier was in the gift shop upstairs, came down later with a group of German tourists.

Hóra, the cultural and administrative capital of Patmos lies on the slopes of a hill around the Monastery of Saint John that located on the hill's top. The massif of bright white houses, bordering the gray fortress of the monastery is visible from a distance. Hora with the Monastery of St. John and the Cave of the Apocalypse are on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The monastery was founded by the holy hermit Christodoulos in 1088 on the site of the ancient temple of Artemis. Until now the local museum preserves the gold bull, issued by Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, that permits the construction of the monastery. Subsequently, Christodoulos departed from the monastery, and remaining 12 monks continued the construction.

The monastery surrounded by a massive fortress with walls 15 meters high. Climbing inside, we proceed past the small old church and get into the inner courtyard with arches and hohlakia paving. In the surrounding galleries there are the church and museum. The wall in front of the church are covered with wonderful frescos, the doors - with carving. Unfortunately, these doors were closed during our visit.

The museum, however, was open. The entrance fee is 6 euros, which will be used, as it is written on the ticket, to save the museum exhibits, library and buildings of the monastery. Among the exhibits there are many beautiful icons, all sorts of church utensils, furniture, ancient manuscripts (e.g., the edicts of Peter I). No photography allowed.

On the upper level of monastic buildings there is a wonderful view of Skala, and the greater part of the whole island.

The village around the fortress was founded half a century after the founding of the monastery, when the laity was allowed to settle here. After the fall of Constantinople, nearly one hundred families have moved from there to Patmos and settled here to the west of the monastery. Now Hora is one of the most beautiful places in the Dodecanese: the plain rectangular houses in whitewash, narrow streets, passing into stairways, many churches (there are more than 400 churches on the island).

All-round panorama from Hora village

Within the residential area of Hora, surrounded by the fortified wall, there is the Convent of Life-giving Spring (Zoodóhos Pigí), founded in 1608. This fortress, in contrast to the main fortress of Hora, is not high, painted white, and practically does not differ from the surrounding houses. The signs on the walls lead to the entrance to the convent. We came there during the service and could hear the enchanting sounds of the live singing of nuns. Reception hours: in the mornings every day from 8 to 12, in the evenings every day except Saturday from 17 to 19.

Not far from the Hora in the south-west direction, there is another convent, the Convent of the Annunciation (Evangelismós), founded in 1937, with a garden and a large church. The convent is open only in the mornings from 9 to 11 (Sunday - from 7 to 11, on Friday closed), but we were there already late afternoon, so everything was closed, including the entrance gate. However, it can be walked round by following the road that runs on the right of the gate. In the bell tower above the gate there are traces of technological progress: the wires extended to the bells instead of ropes, and the percussive machineries were mounted in the bells instead of clappers.

The main road goes round around Hora and begins to go down with serpentine towards the coast. The turn to the right will lead us to the coastal places in the south of the island: Diakófti, Stavrós, and Kouvári. From here also the rise begins to the highest point of Patmos (269 m) to the Church of the Prophet Elijah (Profítis Ilías) on it. The final part of the way up we had to walk on the zigzag stairway. The church was closed, but the views from there are magnificent. Especially beautiful is the view of Hora from above, but to get it, I had to wade through the rocks around the church, experiencing strong wind gusts.

We return to the main road. After leaving Hora, the road goes down to the Gríkos village on the shore of the bay of the same name. This is a main beach resort in the island; there are several hotels and sandy beach here. The bay on the one hand is limited with the small peninsula at the edge of which a massive cliff Pétra stands, in front of it there is a beach and a pond that becomes parched during the summer.

After Grikos the main road turns back to Skala, this time passing along the coast. On the way there is a small bay Sápsila with a beach and a couple of fish tavernas.

We go to the northern part of the island. On the hill above the northern shore of the Skala Bay there is one more monastery: Panagía Koumána. The inner area is filled with flowering plants. Despite the fact that we were there in the reception hour, there were no one inside, all doors were closed. The monastery is open in the mornings every day from 9 to 13, in the evenings every day except Wednesdays and Fridays from 16 to 19.30.

Before the rise to the hill of the monastery, there is a church that has three naves, dedicated to Saints Spiridon, Panteleimon and Raphael. A plate hangs on the wall with the inscription: "The church is open." It should be noted that here on Patmos this notice is very timely; as opposed to, for example, Leros, it is a great piece of luck to find an open church here. It is the observed pattern: the more popular the place, the more closed churches.

The road goes north to the village Kámbos, on the way there are exits to the beaches of the east coast: Melói, Agriolívado. The lower part of the village is also situated in the large beach Kambos. The road along the coast turns east, goes past the next series of beaches, quite wild: Vagiá, Liginou, Livádi Geranoú, and ends at Geranós Bay. Here at the top of the hill the little Church of Panagía tou Geranoú is visible. Several times the road are blocked with fence gates that restrict the movement of herds of goats and sheep.

In Kambos we can turn on the road leading to the north of the island, to the Lámbi Bay. Here is a wonderful pebble beach; each pebble consists of multi-coloured inclusions, mostly brown and black. A sign that installed here prohibits take these stones from the beach.

So, our stay on Patmos is completed. Our trip through the Dodecanese islands, which lasted nearly a month, come to an end and too. There was only a way home. Late in the evening of 8 October, we boarded a ferry Blue Star, took the cabin and the next morning were in Piraeus.



According to tradition, I have some common words to conclude. Each of the Dodecanese islands where we were has its own unique identity and attraction. It was pity to leave every place, I wanted to stay longer, just to live and enjoy the peace but not to wander around the island from end to end. However, we have a short life to live wherever we want; besides I would not endure for long to enjoy the peace.

Despite the uniqueness of each of the Dodecanese islands, they have something common and proper to them only.

The proximity to Asia Minor and the history of predetermined the closer than the rest of Greece relationship with Turkey and the Turks. During the Ottoman Empire (tourkokratia), the islands reached their highest prosperity; the Turkish authorities almost did not interfere in local affairs. With some exceptions, the islanders did not actively participate in the war for Greek independence, although in some places, they suffered for it. The decline began with the advent of the Italians in 1912, the population declined sharply. Even the tragic exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey in 1923 did not affect the Dodecanese islands, is still ruled by Italy. The accession to Greece took place only in 1948. As already noted Rhodes and Kos have the small diaspora of Muslims and acting mosques. At quays there are many boats with the Turkish flag; the tourist boats are constantly ply from Rhodes and Kos to the nearby Turkish resorts Marmaris and Bodrum, respectively.

In addition, here as nowhere else in Greece, there are many permanently living and working residents of Western Europe, mainly British. Representatives of these eurodiasporas purchase real estate, work in the tourism industry and contact locals basically only for work. Of those seven cars distributors with whom I spoke, two were clearly not of Greek origin. There is an investigation of Symi Island about it.

A significant part of the Greek armed forces are concentrated here, on the border with Turkey, its military ally in NATO. This is, apparently, for the convenience of carrying out of the combined operations to protect the interests of democracy (i.e. the U.S.). Especially a lot of the military are in Kos, a couple of times we had to drive after the convoy of jeeps and armoured vehicles there.

As well as throughout Greece, there are many fortresses built by the "Franks", in many cases they located on the ruins of their Byzantine predecessors. The only difference in the variety of the "Franks", here is the Knights of Saint John (the exception - Patmos, the Venetians played the master here). Among all the fortresses, the fortress in the Rhodes city stands out for its beauty and size.

The Italians left the noticeable trace in the architecture of the Dodecanese islands, especially in the major cities and towns. There is widely represented the style of constructivism (or rationalism) with simple geometric shapes and minimal decor, popular in Italy, Germany and the Soviet Union in the first half of XX century. Much work has been done by the Italians on the archaeological excavations and the reconstruction of ancient monuments.

The church architecture of the island is very diverse. Baroque pyramidal bell tower of Rhodes and Symi give place in the other islands to more conventional, rectangular, with a small dome on top. Somewhere it is noticeable influence of the Cycladic style. There are also some miniature churches on a pedestal, but much less than in Crete.

And finally, what unites all the Dodecanese islands and nowhere else I have not seen, it is hohlákia: the paving inlayed with mosaic of dark and light stones of the sea pebble. It can be seen on the churchyard, on the waterfront, on a crowded street. Sometimes it adorns a small area of wall.

And now a bit about that relates not only to our islands, but also to the whole Greece and the Greeks. Just formerly it somehow passed by me, but on this trip, I specifically paid attention to it. It is about the Greek rosary - kobolói. At the beginning of the movie "Rebetiko", visitors of taverna, sitting at the tables, always twisting them in their hands. It was a hundred years ago. In our time, nothing has changed; you can often see a man with a rosary in his hand, both in islands and in Athens. You can buy it in a gift shops for 3 - 5 euros, there are also more expensive. I think there are also considerably more expensive, but these koboloi are sold somewhere in other places. There is a museum in Nafplio dedicated to them. We brought as a souvenir 2 pieces.

Our journey still does not end, go further...

Attribution-No Derivative Works (CC-BY-ND) by Andrey K.