The Island of Patmos
«On the previous day, shortly after midnight, “I was in the isle that is called Patmos”. As dawn was about to break, I was high up in Chora. The sea, immobile like metal, bound the surrounding islands. Not a leaf stirred in the strengthening light. The peace was a shell without trace of a crack. I remained nailed to the spot by the force of the place; then I felt I was whispering: “Come and see…”»
George Seferis, I Apokalypsi tou Ioanni (preface to Seferis’ translation of the Revelation of St John), Athens, Ikaros, 1966
Patmos, like a paradise on earth, awaits its guests to reveal them all of its beauty that derives not only by its nature, but also by one Supreme Power that may determine its fate and destination.
The Island of the Apocalypse and the Jerusalem of the Aegean – as Patmos is called worldwide – the island where Saint John the Theologian was exiled to become a hermit and then to write in 95 AD the sacred book of Revelation, is one of the most important religious and atmospheric destinations, without lacking the cosmopolitan air of an Aegean island or the cultural tradition.
The multifarious indented coastline, ten times larger than the coastline of Greece in relation to its size, creates unique bays and beaches, some pebbly, others with sand or rocks and caves that make Patmos an ideal destination of peace, tranquility, mysticism and leisure, embracing with its aura every visitor.
The medieval town of Chora, with Kastromonastiro (castle-monastery) of St. John the Theologian, which dominates like a crown at its peak, the picturesque and labyrinthine alleys and mansions that surround the Monastery, and the unique architecture of the settlements, offer the visitors the unique opportunity to experience a world whilom and modern at the same time, a world that combines tranquility with the unpretentious cosmopolitan element and culture.
The Greek State, recognizing and accepting the specificity and thus the sacred side of this site, proclaimed Patmos in 1981 as “Holy Island” by law of the national parliament, while Unesco in 1999 placed the Chora(town) of Patmos, the Monastery of St. John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse in the World Heritage Monuments, noting once again the importance and unspoiled beauty and charm of this island over the centuries. Alongside, Patmos belongs to the network COESIMA, as one of the seven most important sites of pilgrimage in Europe. .
Patmos is the island ,witch with its devoutness and its original beauty consisted a source of inspiration not only for the Nobel-laureates Greek poets Seferis and Elytis, but also for the German lyric poet Friedrich Hölderlin, who shocked by the natural beauty of the island wrote:
(…) On the sea’s uncertain plain, shadowless roads enough
Though my seafarer knows the islands. And since I had heard,
That among those near at hand was Patmos,
Much I desired to put in there and be close to its dark cave.
For not like lordly Cyprus, with its abounding waters,
Nor like any other island does Patmos dwell,
But still hospitable in her poorer house is she,
And if a stranger comes from shipwreck or grieving
For his lost homeland or distant friend
She listens, and her children,
Voices of the hot thicket, a trickle of sand,
Earth splitting in a field, her sounds,
They hear him and a loving echo flows from his lament.
Thus did she care once for the god-beloved Seer
Who in his blessed youth had walked
With the Son of the Highest, inseparably (…)
Friedrich Hölderlin (1803), trans. Robert Huddleston