SKALA AND THE NORTH OF THE ISLAND

The activity of Skala is a pleasant contrast to the prevailing lifelessness of Chora. Of all the island’s many indentations, this bay alone can function as a sufficiently deep and protected harbour. Although the port is ancient, its development as a centre of habitation in recent times dates from around 1600, as does its name, which is taken from a widely-found Italian usage, meaning ‘a step’ or ‘stepping-off point’ (i.e. for the main settlement on the hill). It was in this period also that the seas had become sufficiently safe under Ottoman dominion for habitation and stable commerce to begin at sea-level once again, in the place where it had flourished before in Antiquity. To day there are very few ancient remains, but one 19th century traveller noted: ‘at the wharf [at Skala] I observed four or five white marble columns, cut and carved in true Greek fashion, and once very likely standing in the portico of some splendid temple to a heathen god, now used as mooring posts’ (William E. Geil, The Isle that is Called Patmos, 1897). The harbour was taken in hand and improved by the Italians. The 1930 Customs Building opposite the main mole, built in the familiar style of Italian colonial design, is a legacy of their occupation. This arcaded architecture stretches inland as far as the animated plateia of the town, with the low, twin-domed church of Aghios Ioannis beyond its southeast corner.

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

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