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Patmos, declared a 'holy' island by the Greek Parliament in 1981, has been called the 'Jerusalem of the Aegean' since the arrival of Saint John the Evangelist (or Theologian or Apostle), the author of the book of Revelations, in 95 AD and the foundation of the monastery of Saint John in 1088. Even today, Patmos is still an important religious centre for pilgrims and tourists. By the way, John did not come to Patmos voluntarily, he was exiled to the island by the Roman Emperor Domitian (51 AD - 96 AD).

There are scholars who, over the centuries, have doubted whether John the Evangelist was ever on Patmos.

St John's Monastery

St John's Monastery (Greek: Agíou Ioánnou toú Theológou) in the ancient capital of Chora is one of the most important religious centres for both Greek Orthodox and Western Christians. The rich and influential monastery (15 metres high walls, from north to south 53 metres and from east to west 70 metres) was founded in 1088 by the later beatified monk Christodoulos in honour of John the Evangelist and still attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year like a magnet.

Most tourists come for the monastery's beautiful ecclesiastical possessions, including important 12th century frescoes of the Hospitality of Abraham in the Panagia Chapel and the also 12th century icon of John in the Catholicon, the monastery's main church. Other places of interest are the tomb, the silver reliquary of Christodoulos in the Christodoulos Chapel, the chapel of the Holy Cross, the very important library and archive with about 13,000 books, manuscripts and other documents, dating back to 1073. The treasury houses many hundreds of jewellery, silver objects and icons. Unique is the golden bull from 1088, the original foundation charter of this special monastery, with the golden seal of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1056-1118) on it. Another special feature is that the monastery has ten chapels, including the Chapel of All Saints, the Chapel of the Holy Cross, the Holy Vassileos Chapel, the Holy Nicholas Chapel, the Holy John the Baptist Chapel and the Holy Virgin Chapel.

The monks of the monastery have the very exclusive right to re-enact the Last Supper of Jesus Christ on Holy Thursday. This ceremony, called Niptiras, is only allowed to take place in the most important religious centres of the world, and although tiny Patmos is a pale shadow of the world's cities such as Jerusalem, Rome and Constantinople, it certainly belongs in this list.

Other religious buildings


-Agios Dimitrios: church.

-Agios Fokas: church.

-Agios Ioannis Prodromos: church dedicated to John the Baptist.

-Agia Ekaterini: church.

-Panagia ti Diasozoussa: church of 1599 with the miraculous icon "Agia Sozoussa".

-Evangelismos Mitros Igapimenou: the largest nunnery on Patmos, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, with the church of Evangelistra and the chapels of Agios Loukas and Agios Antonios. Icons from the 15th-17th centuries.

-Monastery built over the entrance to the Holy Cave of the Apocalypse.

-Agia Anna: church from 1090 dedicated to Mary with the Holy Cave of the Apocalypse. In this cave, John the Evangelist saw a vision of fire and sulphur and dictated his book of Revelation or Apocalypse, the last book of the New Testament, to his disciple Prochoros. Also 12th century frescoes and icons from 1596 by the painter Thomas Vathas from Crete.

-Agia Apostoli: small church at the entrance of St. John's Monastery.

-Agia Agion: small nunnery.

-Zoodochou Pigis: the second largest nunnery on Patmos dating from 1607 with two adjoining churches.


-Agios Ioannis Theologos: chapel.


-Megali Panaghia: three churches, including the central Agia Triada of the 12th century.

-Agios Nikolaos Evdilos: probably the oldest church on Pamos dating from 1087.

-Livadi Kalogeiron: monastery from Mount Athos on the mainland of Greece from 1700.

-Panagia tou Geranou: church.


-Agios Konstantinos: chapel.


Skala has more than forty chapels, churches and monasteries.

-Agia Paraskevi: church.

-Agios Ioannis: church.

-Agios Konstantinos: church.

-Panagia Koumana: monastery from 1748 with a church built in 1780.


Khatismata (small annexes of monasteries) and hermitages are remote locations where there are small churches with a small number of cells, where one or a few monks live in complete isolation, entirely in the service of God. Prayer and fasting are the main activities of these ascetic religious.

-Profitis Ilias Thesvitos: the highest cathouse on Patmos, built by Neophytos of Symi in 1764. In the middle is the church of Profitis Ilias.

-Ossios Christodoulos: cathisma near Alykes, dedicated to Blessed Christodoulos.

-Panagia Epsimia: small church dedicated to Our Lady of the Cross and some cells.

-Apollos: kathisma: small walled church with cells.

-Kouvari: hermitage, first inhabited by the monk Amphilochios Makris, who later founded the monastery Evangelismos Mitros Igapimenous.

Patmos in mythology

Orestes, son of Agamemnon and Clytaimnestra and brother of Electra, Chrysothmis and Iphigenia, fled from the Furies or Orinyes (goddesses of vengeance) to Patmos and was protected there by Artemis, the goddess of the island. The original name of Patmos according to Greek mythology was 'Letois', named after Leto, the daughter of Artemis.

Patmos was then still an island at the bottom of the sea. Artemis met the moon goddess Selene, who let her light shine over the sea, making Patmos visible. Selene always wanted Patmos to rise above the sea and finally she got the supreme god Zeus, together with her brother Apollo, to agree that Patmos should appear on the surface. The sun dried up the island and life sprang up on Patmos.



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Last updated May 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info