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Patmos: The "sacred" island

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Patmos: The" sacred" island

Known throughout the world as the "Island of Revelation", the northernmost island of the Dodecanese is one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Europe and a global religious center for Christianity.

A unique medley of natural beauty, devoutness and cosmopolitan atmosphere, a land that was praised by poets such as the German poet Hölderlin, a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 1999 and a timeless haven of tranquility of the world’s esthetes.

Full of lacy coasts with beautiful beaches and timeless cultural traditions, Patmos invites the visitor to an authentic journey of spirituality, unpretentious luxury and discreet secular life.

Routes & Attractions

Fortified behind enormous polygonal walls, at the highest point of Chora, stands the imposing Monastery of Saint John the Theologian built in the 11th century. A symbol of Patmos, the fortress monastery is, together with the Holy Cave of the Revelation, a landmark for the historical development of the island. Wander the courtyards with the arched passageways before visiting the Katholikon, the chapels, the Trapeza, the ecclesiastical museum and the library with its priceless treasures and rare manuscripts. The cave where John the Evangelist lived as a hermit and where he experienced the apocalyptic vision that was later transcribed into the Holy Book of Revelation around 95 AD, is located midway from Chora to the harbour. Today it is part of a monastic complex with many chapels, cells and warehouses.

Around the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian spreads the atmospheric Chora of Patmos, a whitish masterpiece of architecture and elegance. Stroll the labyrinthine cobbled streets with the stone vaulted passageways, stand and admire the beautiful 16th – 17th century mansions with the ornate "mantomata" (decorative stones) on the doors and windows. Don’t forget to stop at the picturesque square of Agia Levia, the neoclassical Town Hall (in Xanthos Square), the neighborhood of Aporthiana with the captain houses of the 19th century (symbols of the great maritime and mercantile power of Patmos) and the three imposing windmills (17th – 19th century), awarded with the Europa Nostra (2010) award for their exemplary restoration. If you wish to indulge in the local way of life should visit the Simandiris House (1625), the oldest in Chora. A living museum of the island’s history with elaborate decorations and impressive relics.

The heart of the island beats in Skala, the only port of the island with many shops and entertainment options. From here, hike up to the hill of Kastelli to admire the dazzling ruins of the ancient acropolis of Patmos. The location offers magnificent views of Naxos and Ikaria, Chora and the bay of Skala, as well as the most beautiful sunset on the island.

Beaches & Activities

The lacy coastline of Patmos is made of large bays and dreamy coves with secret beaches spread all around the small volcanic core of the island.

Psili Ammos is perhaps the most enchanting beach, a scenery of exotic beauty with thick sand, and wonderfully shaded rocks. On the north side of the island, Lambi will captivate you with its colorful pebbles that look like small works of art. Cosmopolitans meet in Kampos, the water sports bay with beach bars and restaurants. In the famous Petra, the spellbinding landscape is dominated by the imposing carved rock of Kalikatsou that seems to rise from the sea. According to findings, the cavities on the volcanic stone were "sacred seats" of hermits of the 14th century. Do not miss Livadi Geranou, an idyllic symphony of blue sea and green hills, and buoyant Agriolivado for canoeing on the island of Agia Thekla right across the bay.

With its low hills, Patmos is a paradise for walkers. Travelers may choose among 8 marked cultural trails that promise unforgettable routes in nature and history. It all starts from Chora. Walk along the path to the chapel of Prophet Elias, the highest point of the island (269 m), with panoramic views of Patmos. Aporthianos, the ancient, paved path that leads down to Skala, offers an impressive view of the port and of the cave Revelation.

Water sports enthusiasts meet at the beach of Petra, Agriolivado and Kampos for organized sports lessons and equipment rental.

Tastes of the island

The most famous dish of Patmos gastronomy is the local patiniotiki cheese pie, that resembles a large tart filled with batoudo (a mixture of three local cheeses, eggs, blossom water and cinnamon). Exuberant in taste and delicious, you will find it everywhere on the island. The traditional cuisine of the island balances between seafood and earthy flavors, unique in their simplicity. Try stuffed squid (with rice, raisins and pine nuts), octopus stew, marinated fish (with garlic and rosemary), cod and squid burger, pork krasato (braised in wine), goat lemonato (braised in lemon), stuffed rabbit, but also the festive goat capama in tomato and cinnamon sauce served with macaroni or French fries and dry myzithra. Vegetarians will be delighted with "stiforadika" (local greens called stamnagathi), kritama, stuffed peppers, fountes (zucchini blossoms with rice and feta cheese filling) and eggplants with chickpeas cooked in the pot.

Patmos pastry is known for its achladakia (type of almond sweets that tastes like marzipan), the svigous (fluffy donuts with honey and cinnamon) and of course the popular fried or baked pouggia (dough patties filled with "mazouni", a mixture of honey, almond, walnut, and nutmeg). Blossom water has a special place in local gastronomy; it’s a condiment made of bitter orange blossoms. Schinopsomo and schinopita (made of the aromatic fruit of schinos or pistachia, with cinnamon and sugar) and dasogalo (almond drink with blossom water). Wine lovers do not miss the opportunity to taste the red local variety Mavrotheriko in one of the island’s beautiful wine bars.

Traditions & Events

Easter is a very special occasion on the island of Patmos. The ritual of the Holy Week includes, among others, the ceremony of the Washbasin (on Holy Thursday) in Chora, a Byzantine tradition of the 4th century that is followed reverently only in Patmos and Jerusalem. On Easter Sunday, after the second Resurrection, locals and visitors meet in the square of Skala for the Easter dinner. The locals serve festive dishes, eggs, cheese pies and wine for everyone, while young men and women with traditional costumes present traditional dances of the island.

Contemporary cultural expression has brought high-ranking artistic events to the island of Patmos. In late August, Patmos Sacred Music Festival, one of the most emblematic festivals of Byzantine and classical music in the world, promises a rare spiritual experience in the open-air amphitheater of the Sacred Cave of Revelation. This is also where the Festival of Traditional Dance and Music takes place in September. June is the month of the Festival of Taste and Tradition, a tasting trip to the gastronomic culture of the Aegean. In July, cinema lovers meet at the Patmos International Film Festival, a week of quality screenings, seminars, exhibitions and workshops, with important Greek and foreign producers.

Don’t miss...

Walk along the path that connects Chora with the enchanting Kipoi (Gardens), the wonderful sea-side valley of Patmos for an unforgettable tour through orange trees, lemon trees, carob trees, vines and dozens of wells.

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