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Castle of Patmos
Castle of Patmos
GR Patmos.PNG
Coordinates: 37°19′N 26°30′E / 37.317°N 26.5°E / 37.317; 26.5
Island chain: Dodecanese
Area: 34.05 km² (13 sq.mi.)
Highest mountain: Mt. Profitis Ilias (269 m (883 ft))
Greece Greece
Periphery: South Aegean
Prefecture: Dodecanese
Capital: Patmos (city)
Population: 3,044 (as of 2001)
Density: 89 /km² (232 /sq.mi.)
Postal code: 855 xx
Area code: 22470
License code: ΚΧ, ΡΟ, PK

Patmos (Greek, Πάτμος; Italian: Patmo) is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea. One of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex, it has a population of 2,984 and an area of 34.05 km (13 square miles). The highest point is Profitis Ilias, 269 meters above sea level. The Municipality of Patmos, which includes the offshore islands of Arkoi (pop. 54), Marathi (pop. 6), and several uninhabited islets, has a total population of 3,044 (2001 census) and a combined land area of 45.039 km².

Patmos' main communities are Chora (the capital city), and Skala, the only commercial port. Other settlements are Grikou and Kampos. The churches and communities on Patmos are of the Eastern Orthodox tradition. In 1999, the island's historic center Chora, along with the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse, were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.[1] The monastery was founded by Saint Christodulos.[2] Patmos is also home to the Patmian School, a notable Greek seminary.

Patmos is mentioned in the Christian scriptural Book of Revelation. The book's introduction states that its author, John, was on Patmos when he was given (and recorded) a vision from Jesus. Earliest Christian tradition identifies this writer as John the Apostle. As such, Patmos is a destination for Christian pilgrimage. Visitors can see the cave where John is said to have received his Revelation (the Cave of the Apocalypse), and several monasteries on the island are dedicated to Saint John.

The current mayor of Patmos is Grigoris Kamposos.



John the Apostle on Patmos by Jacopo Vignali.
The beach at Meloi, within walking distance of Skala

The earliest remains of human settlements date to the Middle Bronze Age (ca 2000 BC). They consist of pottery shards from Kastelli, the most important archaeological site so far identified.

Patmos is seldom mentioned by ancient writers. Therefore very little can be conjectured about the earliest inhabitants. In the Classical period, the Patmians prefer to identify themselves as Dorians descending from the families of Argos, Sparta and Epidaurus, further mingling with people of Ionian ancestry.

Judging from archaeological finds, Kastelli continued to play an important role on the island throughout the Ancient Greek period (ca 750 BC-323 BC).

During the 3rd century BC, in the Hellenistic period, the settlement of Patmos acquired the form of an acropolis with an improved defence through a fortification wall and towers.[3]

After the death of John of Patmos, possibly around 100 AD, a number of Early Christian basilicas were erected on Patmos. Among these was a Grand Royal Basilica in honour of Saint John, built ca 300-350 at the location where the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian stands today.

Early Christian life on Patmos, however, barely survived Arab raids from the 6th to the 9th century. During this period, the Grand Basilica was destroyed. In the 11th century, the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos gave Reverend Father Christodoulos the complete authority over the island of Patmos, as well as the permission to build a monastery on the island. The construction of the monastery started in 1101.[3][4]

Population was expanded by infusions of Byzantine immigrants fleeing the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, and Cretan immigrants fleeing the fall of Candia in 1669.

The island was controlled by the Ottoman Empire for many years, but it enjoyed certain privileges, mostly related to tax-free trade by the monastery as certified by Ottoman imperial documents held in the Library.

In 1912, in connection with the Turco-Italian War, the Italians occupied all the islands of the Dodecanese, including Patmos. The Italians remained there until 1943, when Nazi Germany took over the island.

In 1945, the Germans left and the island of Patmos remained autonomous until 1948, when it, together with the rest of the Dodecanese Islands, joined the independent Greece.[4]

The birth of Patmos according to Greek mythology

According to a legend within the Greek mythology, the island's original name was "Letois," after the goddess Artemis, daughter of Leto. It was believed that Patmos came into existence thanks to her divine intervention. Mythology tells of how Patmos existed as an island at the bottom of the sea.

Deer-huntress Artemis frequently paid visits to Caria, the mainland across the shore from Patmos, where she had a shrine on Mount Latmos. There, she used to meet up with the moon goddess Selene, who cast her light on the ocean, revealing the sunken island of Patmos.

Selene was always trying to get Artemis to bring the sunken island to the surface and, hence, to life. Selene finally convinced Artemis, who, in turn, elicited her brother Apollo's help, in order to persuade Zeus to allow the island to arise from the sea.

Zeus agreed, and the island emerged from the water. The Sun dried up the land and brought life to it. Gradually, inhabitants from the surrounding areas, including Mount Latmos, settled on the island and named it "Letois" in honour of Artemis.[5]

Illegal immigration

In September 2008, the municipality of Patmos refused landing to a group of undocumented refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq. On the weekend of September 19, 2008, about 133 refugees were rescued. About half of the refugees were infants and minors. The refugees were taken to Patmos, the nearest municipality, for processing and care. The administration refused them permission to land. Eventually they were sent to the island of Leros where they were processed and offered basic humanitarian services.[6][7] Local authorities justified their action by contrasting it to alleged practices elsewhere in the EU: "Malta sinks their boats and Italy lets them drown", local leaders claimed.[8]

Picture gallery

See also


  1. ^ UNESCO, World Heritage Site #942, webpage:WHC-UNESCO-942.
  2. ^  "Patmos". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  3. ^ a b Patmos - official website History. Retrieved on 2008-09-04.
  4. ^ a b - Patmos history. Retrieved on 2008-09-04.
  5. ^ Patmos - official website Legendary folk tales and mythology. Retrieved on 2008-09-04.
  6. ^ Nylou Editorial
  7. ^ Interpress Agency: Refugees Kept At Sea
  8. ^ "Η Πάτμος δεν δέχτηκε τους 133 αλλοδαπούς" (in Greek). Kathimerini. 2008-09-23. Retrieved 2008-11-25. 

External material


  • Tom Stone: The Summer of My Greek Taverna: A Memoir, Simon & Schuster, New York NY 2003, ISBN 074324771X (Stone brings readers into the tiny Greek island world of Patmos)

External links

Coordinates: 37°19′N 26°33′E / 37.317°N 26.55°E / 37.317; 26.55

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

A small rocky and barren island, one of the group called the "Sporades," in the Aegean Sea. It is mentioned in Scripture only in Rev 1:9. It was on this island, to which John was banished by the emperor Domitian (A.D. 95), that he received from God the wondrous revelation recorded in his book. This has naturally invested it with the deepest interest for all time. It is now called Patmo.

John's home was a grotto on the island. This grotto is now called Apokalypsis or the Cave of Revelation. It was through a crack in the ceiling of his grotto where Jesus appeared to the exiled apostle. John dictated the details of his extraordinary vision to his disciple Prochorus. John was instructed that this Revelation of the victory of church was to be documented as something that could be seen; it was to be written down. It was also given as something that was to be sent; it was to be distributed to the seven established Christian churches at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. This is why the island of Patmos became the centre for Orthodox Christianity. The Cave of Revelation lies between Chora (Hora) and Skala.

According to Roman mythology the island of Patmos was a gift from Jupiter (Zeus) to his daughter, Diana (Artemis), the goddess of the hunt and young women, and she was worshipped there. The Greek mythological hero Orestes, who was the brother of Electra and the son of Agammemnon of Trojan War fame, sought refuge on Patmos Island from the pursuit of the Erinnyes over the murder of his mother, Clymtemnestra. Over the years the island paid tribute to Athens (5th century BC), the Macedonians (4th century BC), with the Romans taking it over in the 2nd century BC.

In 95 AD St. John was banished from Miletus by Emperor Domitian to the island of Patmos for preaching the Gospel at Ephesus. The Romans regularly used Patmos Island as a place of exile. Patmos Island is narrow and rocky, located on the eastern border of the Aegean Sea, between Leros and Ikaria. It is an island about 10 miles long and 6 miles wide often called the Jerusalem of the Aegean. The island of Patmos is today part of Greece. It is located among the Sporades group of islands, near the west coast of Turkey and is known for having very strong winds. It has a very irregular coastline and is one of the smallest islands in this group.

The Romans housed political prisoners and criminals on the island. Political prisoners had freedom to wander the island and were not forced to do the same hard labour in the mines and quarries as the criminals did. Christians, at that time, were deemed to be criminals and were fettered as well as lacking adequate food and clothing. They slept on the bare ground in caves. John was an old man of 90 when he was exiled to this place, it must have been a trememdous hardship for him. Some think he was plunged into a pot of boiling oil before he was exiled.

In the 17th century a monastery was built around the cave in which St. John wrote the book of Revelation. The port at Patmos Island is called Skala and on the top of the cliffs stands Chora (Hora), the capital. The middle of the island has been dominated by the massive Byzantine monastery of St John Theologos. It was built in 1088 under the order of Emperor Alexios Komninos and founded by Ioannis Christodoulos, a leading member of the Eastern Orthodox church at the time.

These days the most common way to get to Patmos is to fly to Athens and then take the boat from there to the port of Pieraus. Patmos is also connected with the rest of the Dodecannese, and is close to the islands of Mykonos, Samos and Tenos. Chora was built like a labryinth in order to discourage pirates and there are lots of local crafts available as well as many beaches - most of the beaches are stone but there is one sand beach.

Other places of interest on the island are the nunnery of Zoodochos Pigis (Life-giving Source) which is in Chora and can be visited at certain times. The most active nunnery is outside the village and is called Evangelismos. There is another monastery called Profitis Elias (Prophet Elias). It is the highest point of the island (269m) so you would have to be into a climb. In order to visit any of these places, proper dress is required. Women must wear long skirts and have their shoulders covered. Men must wear long pants.

John's exile ended in 97AD and he returned to Ephesus. John is the only Apostle believed to have lived to an old age and to die a natural death. There is no record of him being martyred. Some think he died on the island of Patmos (Template:Revelation) although some sources believe he died at Ephesus.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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