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The south of the island
A kilometre and a half to the southwest of Chora is the convent of the Evangelismos (open daily, 9–11.30). Built around a 17th century hermitage, the surrounding complex dates from 1937. The principal interest lies in the magnificent setting of the convent, dominating the valley to the south, and in the two buildings in its southwest corner—the original hermitage chapel of St Luke, and the church of the Annunciation, recently painted with impeccable murals by one of the convent’s resident nuns. Immediately to the left on entering, is an exquisite 16th century icon of the Annunciation.
To the south of Chora the landscape is dramatic, declaring its volcanic origin in the scatter of eroded igneous outcrops and boulders at its surface. The island narrows to a thin isthmus marked by the church of the Stavros. Ahead rises the bulk of Mount Prasovouno (237m): to the east is the protected bay of Diakofti, where there is an active boatyard, while to the west, in the bay of Stavros are salt-pans. The road ends here, but by following the track further south, down the west coast from Stavros, you climb up and then descend into Patmos’s purest sand beach—Psili Ammos. There is the shade of tamarisk trees, and a taverna which operates in the summer months.
From Stavros, a route (part track, part road) leads north up the east shore towards Groikos. The long shallow sweep of the bays of Diakofti and Petra is broken by the conspicuous, eroded form of the Kalikatsou(‘cormorant’) Rock, which is attached to the shore by a flat spit of land and has all the appearance of a Cappadocian outcrop, now that its steep sides and summit have been carved with caves, steps and deep channels for water collection, by generations of worshippers and hermits. No proper study has been made of this remarkable rock; all that can be said is that—as in Cappadocia—its natural hollows have been used by anchorites in the early Middle Ages as inaccessible dwellings, and that the steps and plat form cut on and below the summit probably relate to an open-air (?)sanctuary of Aphrodite, which is attested in literary sources. Sherds of clay vessels and stone tools dating from the early 3rd millennium bc have been found, indicating—as would be expected with such a numinous, natural phenomenon—a very ancient human presence. The road continues to Groikos, the island’s principal resort, set in a sheltered position looking out onto the natural amphitheatre of the bay—the hills grouped around the small island of Tragonisi, with distant views of Leros beyond. Two and a half kilometres further north, the road reaches Skala, through its quiet, southeastern suburb of ‘Konsolato’, named after the handful of foreign consulates that opened here in the shipping heyday of the 19th century.
Patmos Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.