Patmos Tourist Attractions & Day Trips Greece - Greek Travel Guide

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The star attractions of Patmos are undoubtedly the Sacred Grotto and Monastery of St John which together represent the sole reason why many visitors come to the island. These two holy places of pilgrimage attract tourists and the Christian faithful in their droves, especially during the island's Easter Week celebrations which are among the most important in Greece.

You can take a bus up to the monastery, which crowns the island's hill top capital Hora to the south of the port, or walk up the Byzantine cobbled path leading from Skala to the so-called Cave of the Apocalypse and onto the monastery. It's a steep and challenging hike of about 45 minutes so you might want to take a bus or taxi there and enjoy the scenic but more leisurely walk back.

The cave is about half way along the path, housed within the 11th century Church of Agia Anna. Even if you're not one of the faithful for whom this is one of the holiest shrines of the Christian world, you can't help but be stirred by the mysticism of this ancient site where Jesus' apostle wrote the closing chapters of the bible. It was here that St John lived and worked after he was exiled to the island by the pagan Roman emperor Domitian in 95 AD. You can see the triple fissure through which St John is said to have heard the voice of God and had the visions on which the Book of Revelation is based. There's also an indentation in the cave wall, outlined in silver, which was reputedly the spot where the saint laid his head at night.

The fortified monastery, with its towers and buttresses dominating the pretty whitewashed village of Hora, was built in honour of the saint in 1088. A soldier-monk from Asia Minor, Ioannis "The Blessed" Christodoulos, founded the monastery after being granted title of Patmos by the Byzantine emperor Alexios Komnenos. The island became an independent monastic state and was ruled by monks for the next six centuries.

The castle-like monastery's fabulous collection of priceless treasures includes the emperor's 11th century gold-sealed edict handing control of the island to Christodoulos. The tomb of Christodoulos, important 12th century frescoes and a dazzling array of jewels, religious icons and silverware are contained within the monastery walls.

If you visit at Easter you'll be able to join the masses who converge on Hora to watch the current abbot publicly wash the feet of 12 monks in a re-enactment of the Last Supper when Jesus washed the feet of his apostles.

In the unlikely event that you tire of the beaches of Patmos, there are plenty of boat excursions to be enjoyed around the island and to neighbouring islands. Little Lipsi, 12 kilometres east of Patmos, is a green and magical island well worth a day trip for its uncrowded beaches, good tavernas and lack of tourist paraphernalia. At primitive Arki, five kilometres north of Lipsi, you can swim in the beautiful turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon off the south east tip of the island. Or enjoy a day on the superb tree-lined sandy beach on the tiny islet of Marathi where two tavernas serve lunches to day trippers from Patmos.

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