Aug 10, 2012

Nikos Deja Vu - Patmos Island - Greece: The Island of the Apocalypse

Patmos Island - Greece

The Island of the Apocalypse

The island of Patmos is an incredible destination. With a rich history and picturesque beauty, Patmos is one of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex in the Aegean Sea.

It has a population of 4-5000 and an area of only 35 kilometers. The island has been inhabited since 3,000 BC, and excavations of fortresses, cemeteries, pottery fragments, sepulchral stones, and other artifacts significant to the Greek Orthodox tradition are evidence of a densely populated area with thousands of years of dynamic cultural and political activity.

In 2006, the island's historic center of Chora, the Monastery of Saint Ioannis (John) the Theologian, and the Cave of the Apocalypse were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Patmos is also home to the Patmian School, a notable Greek seminary.

The walls of the ancient Acropolis, which is situated over the hill Castelli, were built in the 6th and 4th centuries BC on Patmos. It is recorded that near the Acropolis stood the Apollo Temple, the Bacchus Temple, and the Hippodrome. In ancient times, the goddess Artemis was particularly adored in Patmos. She was considered to be the patroness of the island, and according to Greek mythology, the island owes its existence to her.

In 95 AD, Patmos welcomed Saint Ioannis (John) the Apostle to its shores. Saint Ioannis (John), who was exiled to the island, wrote the Book of Revelation also known as "The Apocalypse" while on the island. The Book of Revelation The Apocalypse of Ioannis (John) is the last and only prophetical book of the New Testament. In its prologue, Saint Ioannis (John) wrote:
"I dwelled in an island of which name is Patmos, as to preach the word of God and have faith in the martyrdom suffered by Jesus Christ"

The Cave where Saint Ioannis (John) received his Revelation, the Cave of the Apocalypse, attracts thousands of religious pilgrims and other visitors every year. The Cave of the Apocalypse is one of the few places in the world where religious ceremonies that date back to early Christian times have been practiced uninterrupted throughout the centuries.

The Cave of the Apocalypse and the Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos -- Saint Ioannis (John) the Theologian, founded by Saint Christodoulos -- are located in Chora, the capital city of the island, and together they constitute a wonderful traditional Greek Orthodox pilgrimage center with outstanding architectural features.

The Monastery showcases the best of wood carving and other carpentry arts. Inside, there are eight small chapels with rare authentic icons of Byzantine art, including the icon of St. John the Theologian donated by the Emperor Alexios I and the mosaic icon of St. Nicholas, and the walls are decorated with exceptional frescoes from various periods. The church’s altar has an imposing stone that originally was part of the temple of the goddess Artemis, and in the front yard of the Monastery there are several ancient pillars.

The Monastery also contains a rare mitre of the Emperor of Byzantium Alexios I, the mitre of Neophytos VI, and a medal cross of Patriarch Gregory V. Other precious relics that have been preserved for many centuries include sacerdotal garments of bishops woven in gold thread with exceptional embroideries surmounted by precious stones and large glass cases with impressive displays of sacred objects, including ornate crosses, sacred communion cups, and other mitres of emperors and patriarchs.

Another place of particular interest is the Library of the Monastery, which houses a truly impressive selection of ancient documents: more than 2,000 volumes of ancient editions and 13,000 rare copies of various documents, including approximately 900 manuscripts, about 325 of which are written on parchment.

Some of the most important manuscripts in the Library are the manuscript of Diodore Sikeliotis, the Purple Code, an incomplete copy of Evangelist Mark Gospel, the book of Job, manuscripts of the 7th and 8th century AD, sermons of St. Gregory the Theologian, and the Gospel of Four (dating from 1345 AD and containing rare images of the Evangelists).

In addition, there are 29 roll manuscripts on parchment containing the texts of masses written by St. Basil the Great and St. John the Chrysostome, as well as a variety of documents about Byzantine emperors, patriarchs, princes, and other dignitaries.

As you can imagine, an intense religious aura is apparent across the small island of Patmos, since it is home to more than 50 churches and monasteries!

However, visitors have the chance to visit not only significant Greek Orthodox religious places, but many ancient settlements and religious sites as well.

One such settlement is Agrikia, which is situated where the temple of Zeus once was located, along with ruins from ancient buildings and walls dating to the time of Byzantine Empire.

Undoubtedly, Patmos is memorable for its spiritual and historical sites.

But sandy beaches, whitewashed stone buildings, warm hospitality, and delicious homemade food of the islanders complement the historical experience and more than satisfy any discerning visitor.

There is a lot more to be discovered. If you enjoy the outdoors, you'll love to explore the island's unique terrain, which features many tall mountains as well as some impressive caves.

The highest peak is Profitis Elias, which is 270 meters above sea level.

(The monastery of the Apostle Ioannis (John) is nearly as high at 240 meters above sea level.)

The caves of Patmos are sensational: the most important is the Cave of the Apocalypse, which is 6.60 meters in length and 5.50 meters in width, followed by the cave of Kinopa, which houses a small chapel, and the caves of Apollo, Arapi, Sikamia, Aliki, and Fournakia Foko.

There are many gulfs in the island, creating exquisite beaches and magical scenery, ideal for swimming in the crystal clear deep waters. All around the island and within its gulfs there are small islands that add to the attractions of the island of Patmos. The largest of these is Hiliomodi, which is situated in the gulf of Skala. On this small island, the church of Saint Panteleimonas is located and is celebrated on the 27th of June every year. Further north are located the small islands of Santa Thekla, Saint George, Kentronisi, Tragonisi, Prasonisi, and Petra.

The island offers a wide range of water sports and there are many choices available at most organized beaches and hotel resorts. Fishing lovers, as I am, will surely be satisfied, since the island provides excellent areas for fishing, both in its gulfs and off of the small surrounding islands. Furthermore, the calm sea and the sparkling waters are perfect for scuba diving.

My stay on the island of Patmos was both relaxing and enjoyable either at the hotel resorts or fully furnished rental rooms that are available all over the island. You may rent a car or use local transportation easily to access ancient and holy sites, spectacular beaches, and an abundance of restaurants, pretty cafes, boutiques, and nightclubs.

I truly enjoy observing the Cycladic architecture of the Greek Isles, walking in flagstone alleys with doors, roofs, and shutters painted in vibrant colors.

Well-tended flowered courtyards filled with Mediterranean aromas, numerous chapels scattered around, the warm hospitality of locals, the mouthwatering food, and precious ancient and religious sites set against the deep blue backdrop of the Aegean Sea make Patmos, the island of Apocalypse, a true treasure...

Nikos Deja Vu

No comments:

Post a Comment