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The Monastery of St. John is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Patmos, second only, perhaps, to the related Cave of the Apocalypse. It draws crowds from all over the world and is a common Christian pilgrimage because of its ties to John the Apostle and the last book in the Christian Bible, Revelation. Like the rest of Patmos, the Monastery of St. John has a richly preserved history, and it should be one of the first things on your list when you reach Patmos.
Sometime during the reign of Nero, John the Apostle was exiled to the isle of Patmos, where he spent his days in a cave. One day, he was given a vision from God–a vision of the end times. His student, Prohoros, recorded everything John saw in his vision in the Book of Revelation. As Christianity spread, Patmos became known as the temporary home of John, and the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. John was built in his honor.
The Monastery was built on a hilltop in the center of Chora, surrounded by a sturdy fortress, to protect it from pirates, Turks, and anyone else who might wish to invade. Some followers of Artemis also claimed that Christians tore down a temple to Artemis and erected the Monastery of St. John on top of it.
How to Get There
A massive structure in the center of the Patmos capital of Chora, the Monastery is easy to see but harder to reach. If you take a bus to Chora, you will find a kiosk near the bus station, and to the left of the kiosk, a steep, paved road. You can take the bus into Chora, but it should be noted no driving is allowed in Chora itself. On the way uphill, you’ll pass places to eat and gift shops, some Christian, some not. When you reach the Artemis gift shop, you’ll see a set of stairs leading to the Monastery. Pat yourself on the back for making it all the way up the hill. Anyone entering the Monastery, male or female, should have their shoulders and knees covered.
What to See In the Monastery
The eastern and northern sides of the Monastery are the oldest and can be distinguished by their irregular construction, as if they were hastily thrown together. It’s an interesting sight for those most interested in the history of the place. The courtyard is beautifully tranquil for quiet reflection. The main chapel holds famous religious relics such as the skull of St. Thomas and pieces of the Holy Cross. Next to the main chapel is the chapel of the Virgin Mary, where you can find paintings displayed all over the walls, many dating back to the 12th century. You can also find the museum near the bakery, which has an entry fee of 6 euros.
Once you’re finished at the Monastery, you can walk down the Old Path to reach the Cave of the Apocalypse.
Where to Stay
When it comes to accommodation, Patmos has several hotels to choose from. However, Chris Hotel provides a commitment to quality service that’s difficult to find anywhere else. It’s located in Skala, the main port of Patmos, close to the bus, shops, and grocery stores. It has beautiful room views of the sea, the mountains, or their own courtyard. The staff are all very knowledgeable, so feel free to ask them any questions you might have about visiting the Monastery of St. John.
Patmos, Greece is a tiny island with a big history. It’s a popular Christian pilgrimage because of its claim to fame, John the Apostle, who wrote the book of Revelation while he was exiled to Patmos. It also has its own origin story in Greek mythology. If you walk through Patmos, you’ll notice the way the streets and some of the architecture feels like taking a walk into the past, because Patmos is so connected to its past. Few places have better reason to be. Here are some of the myths, legends, and religious history that made Patmos what it is today.
The Creation of Patmos According to Greek Mythology
According to Greek mythology, the island of Patmos was once named the island of Litois, after Artemis, sometimes referred to as Litoida, the goddess of the hunt. Artemis often traveled to Caria, the nearby mainland, to visit her shrine at Mount Latmos and meet with the moon goddess Selene. When Selene cast moonlight over the ocean, they could see the sunken island of Patmos beneath the surface.
Artemis, with the help of her twin brother Appolo, convinced Zeus to bring the island to the surface. He did, and presented Patmos as a gift to Artemis. It’s believed that Patmos was once a place filled primarily wish the worship of Artemis. Some believe that the Monastery of St. John was built over her own temple.
The Revelation of St. John
The most popular tourist spots on Patmos are undoubtedly the Monastery of St. John and the Cave of the Apocalypse. John the Apostle was exiled for a time to the isle of Patmos, where he slept in a cave. Supposedly through a crack in that cave, he received a vision from God about the end times. He wrote this vision down and it came to be the final book of the Christian Bible – the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Tourists can visit the Cave of the Apocalypse and see mosaics on the wall portraying the visions John saw. They can see the rock that he used as a pillow at night when he slept. They can even see the crack through the rocks where he received his revelation. Christians travel from all over the world to Patmos to see this cave.
Legends of Patmos, Greece
Patmos also features in the story of Orestes. After killing his mother, Clytemnestra, Orestes was pursued by the Erinyes and fled briefly to Patmos. While there, he built a temple to Artemis.
A legend also surrounds Petra Kallikatsou. The story goes that a young girl was forbidden by her mother to go swimming because she had just taken communion. Tempted by the beauty of the Aegean Sea, she insisted and her mother told her, “Touch the water and you will become stone.” The girl went anyway, and as soon as she touched the water, she turned to stone. The name Kallikatsou is similar to the word locals use to refer to a sea crow.
If you choose to come to Patmos to be witness to its wealth of history (both true and invented), you will have several options of Patmos, Greece hotels for accommodation. But Chris Hotel can guarantee you quality service and exceptional deals. Chris Hotel has room views facing the sea, the mountains, or their gardens. It’s located in Skala, the main port of the island, conveniently located to the best shops and grocery stores. It’s also an easy distance from the most popular tourist locations. Contact Chris Hotel today to book your stay in Patmos.