PATMOS



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Patmos - general

General
Both in the imagination and in reality, Patmos is so dominated by the great Monastery of St John that it is easy to forget that there is a lot more to this beautiful island—not least, its beautiful and architecturally interesting Chora which, even without the monastery, would be worthy of attention. The island also possesses a remarkably varied shoreline—deeply indented and modulated at every point; often backed by dramatic hillsides; sometimes given character by shoals and banks just below the surface, or marked above water by offshore islets and eroded rock-stacks, such as the memorable KalikatsouRock; and, in some places, it is even lined with strands of agate pebbles, as at Lambi. The island is in effect the jagged tip of a volcanic caldera which extends under water to east and south, and for this reason its slopes are mostly bare with outcrops of eroded igneous boulders and its heights are dramatic and panoramic.
   Though chic and well-organised today, the island appeared sufficiently windswept and remote to the Roman Imperial authorities for them to consider it a suitable place of banishment for the elderly patriarch of Ephesus, St John the Divine. Then, almost exactly 1,000 years later, an energetic and clear-sighted monk came here on his own spiritual exile, fleeing the noise and distraction that disturbed the brotherhood he had created in the mountains of Kos and intent on building a remoter monastery on Patmos in honour of St John. So great was Christodoulos’s desire for peace and spiritual integrity that he insisted on his builders and their families keeping to a separate area in the northern tip of the island, safely away from proximity to the new monastery. ‘The loneliness of the island made me leap for joy: I delighted in its tranquillity, rejoiced that it was untrodden. Its remoteness and dreariness were to me a treasure of cheerfulness’, he wrote.
   But it is the perennial conundrum of great hermits and great monasteries that in time they become focuses of pressing crowds who come to look, either with the eyes of faith or, more recently, the gaze of a blanker sort of tourism. The Monastery of St John is a tiny and intimate space that can ill accommodate the pressing throngs of visitors today, who on occasions push relentlessly through its sanctuary. It is hard to know what the founder would have made of it all. St John himself might be less amazed; with the insight of the vision he received in the cave of the Apocalypse, he had again and again seen images of ‘great multitudes which no man could number ‘ of...all nations  and "'tongues''. The secret of a sympathetic visit to the monastery is to go, if possible, early in the morning or late in the afternoon, or else on a day when there are no ships in the port: otherwise it is unlikely that it will reveal its true identity. The presence of the monastery has inevitably conditioned many aspects of the island; one of the most rewarding for the visitor lies in the quality of devotional art that it has attracted, not only in the monastery itself, but in the icons to be found in the many rural ‘Holy Seats’, or scattered hermitages around the island—such as at the Panaghia Koumana, or in the Convent of the Zoodochos Pi­gi.


Patmos Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.


access

Patmos Island, Greece.

By boat: Patmos has no airport but is well connected by sea to Piraeus, Kos and Rhodes , by Blue Star Ferries (twice weekly) and GA Ferries (five times weekly); the latter also calls at Kalymnos and Leros en route between Patmos and Rhodes .
In the summer season there are daily services by catamaran (Dodecanese Express) on the Dodecanese route between Rhodes , Kos, Kalymnos, Leros, Lipsi and Patmos;
and four times weekly the car ferry, F/B Nisos Kalymnos, runs this same route up from Kos and ex tends it onwards via Arki and Agathonisi, to Pythagoreion on Samos .
Flying Dolphin hydrofoils ply the same route daily in summer only, including twice-weekly connections to Ikaria and Fourni. Caïques run local services to the small er islands, including Maráthi, in high season.

 

Patmos Travel Guide

eating

Patmos Island, Greece.

Chiliomodi, 100m inland of the harbour, to the left of the road to Chora, has excellent seafood and fish, prepared simply and with no frills, in plain taverna atmosphere: the wine is good, and the urchins, small fish and shrimp are the best in Skala.
Also in Skala, Grigoris, on the waterfront, looks unpromising, but is nonetheless reliable, especially for meat. Lambi, on the beach  of that name, provides only what is available that day and so can be variable, but the place is quiet and the setting beautiful; Stefanos, often just referred to as ‘Meloï’, with a terrace overlooking Meloï beach, is more consistent and lively and has carefully prepared home cooking. 

Patmos Travel Guide

further reading

Patmos Island, Greece.

The full text, translated and surprisingly readable, of the Rule written by Hosios Christódoulos in 1091 (edited by John Thomas and Angela Constantinides Hero), which contains his ‘autobiographi cal’ introduction, can be consulted in Dumbarton Oaks: Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents (published 2000); or at www.doaks.org/ typikaPDF/typ033.pdf

Patmos Travel Guide

lodging

Patmos Island, Greece.

Patmos offers a remarkably wide range of hospitality from basic lodgings to overly pretentious hotels: a good halfway house, combining comfort and style is the Petra Hotel in Groíkos Bay (T. 22470 34020, 32567, www.petrahotel-patmos.com )
brand new studio-apartments, overlooking the main bay, can be taken at Irini Traditional Homes (T. 22470 32826, 32556, www.traditional.gr).
For old-fashioned practicality, the Hotel Skala (T. 22470 31343, 31747), set back in its own garden, is reliable and convenient for ferries, though the breakfast leaves a little to be desired.
In the peace and quiet of Old Chora, there are mostly only rooms available; a couple of the nicest and simplest are those of Giorgia Triandáfilou (T. 22470 31963) and Marouso Kouna (T. 22470 31026).

Patmos Travel Guide

practical info

Patmos Island, Greece.

85 500 Patmos: area 34sq km
perimeter 72km
resident population 2997
max. altitude 272m.
Port Authorities: T. 22470 31231.
Travel and information: Apollon Travel, T. 22470 31324, 31819 ; Astoria Travel, T. 22470 31205, 31975, www.astoriatravel.com

Patmos Travel Guide

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