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Chora and the Castle of Patmos
Chora and the Castle of Patmos
Patmos is located in Greece
Location within the region
2011 Dimos Patmou.png
Coordinates: 37°19.5′N 26°32.5′E / 37.3250°N 26.5417°E / 37.3250; 26.5417Coordinates: 37°19.5′N 26°32.5′E / 37.3250°N 26.5417°E / 37.3250; 26.5417
Administrative regionSouth Aegean
Regional unitKalymnos
 • MayorEleftherios Pentes
 • Municipality45.0 km2 (17.4 sq mi)
Highest elevation
270 m (890 ft)
Lowest elevation
0 m (0 ft)
 • Municipality
 • Municipality density68/km2 (180/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal code
855 xx
Area code(s)22470
Vehicle registrationKX, PO, PK

Patmos (Greek: Πάτμος, pronounced [ˈpatmos]) is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea. It is perhaps best known today as the location the disciple / apostle John received the visions found in the Book of Revelation of the New Testament, and where the book was written.

One of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex,[2] it has a population of 2,998 and an area of 34.05 km2 (13.15 sq mi). The highest point is Profitis Ilias, 269 metres (883 ft) above sea level. The municipality of Patmos, which includes the offshore islands of Arkoi (pop. 44), Marathos (pop. 5), and several uninhabited islets, has a total population of 3,047 (2011 census)[3] and a combined land area of 45.039 square kilometres (17.390 sq mi).[4] It is part of the Kalymnos regional unit.


View of the port (Skala)
The beach of Meloi, within walking distance of Skala

The birth of Patmos according to Greek mythology[edit]

According to a legend in Greek mythology, the island's original name was "Letois", after the goddess and huntress of deer, Artemis, daughter of Leto. It was believed that Patmos came into existence thanks to her divine intervention.

The myth tells how Patmos existed as an island at the bottom of the sea.[citation needed] Artemis frequently paid visits to Caria, the mainland across the shore from Patmos, where she had a shrine on Mount Latmos. There she met the moon goddess Selene, who cast her light on the ocean, revealing the sunken island of Patmos.[citation needed]

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, gained her brother Apollo's help to persuade Zeus to allow the island to arise from the sea.[citation needed]

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]

John the Apostle on Patmos, a 17th-century painting by Jacopo Vignali.

History from the Classical period to the present[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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.[6]

Patmos is mentioned in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible. The book's introduction states that its author, John, was on Patmos when he was given (and recorded) a vision from Jesus. Early Christian tradition identified this writer John of Patmos as John the Apostle.[7] For this reason, 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.

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

Early Christian life on Patmos, however, barely survived Muslim raids from the 7th to the 9th century.[citation needed] During this period, the Grand Basilica was destroyed. In 1088, the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos gave Christodulus 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.[6][8]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] Ottoman rule in Patmos ("Batnaz" in Ottoman Turkish) was interrupted by initially Venetian occupation during Candian War between 1659 and 1669, then Russian occupation during Orlov Revolt between 1770 and 1774 and finally during Greek War of Independence.

In 1912, in connection with the Italo-Turkish War, the Italians occupied all the islands of the Dodecanese (except Kastellorizo), including Patmos. The Italians remained there until 1943, when Nazi Germany took over the island.[9]

Around 1930, Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam initiated the claim that, while residing on Patmos approximately 6,600 years ago, an evil scientist named Yakub initiated the creation of the white race through a process of selective breeding.[10]

In 1945, the Germans left and the island of Patmos remained autonomous until 1948, when, together with the rest of the Dodecanese Islands, it joined the independent Greece.[8]

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.[11] The monastery was founded by Saint Christodulos.[12] Patmos is also home to the Patmian School, a notable Greek seminary.

21st century[edit]

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 134 refugees were rescued at sea. 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 given humanitarian aid.[13][14]

Forbes magazine, in 2009, named Patmos "Europe's most idyllic place to live", writing that "Patmos has evolved over the centuries but has not lost its air of quiet tranquility, which is one reason why people that know it return again and again".[15]


Kalikatsou Rock, Petra Beach

Patmos is situated off the west coast of Turkey and the continent of Asia. It is one of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex. It is further west than its nearby neighboring islands.

It contains an area of 34.05 km2 (13.15 sq mi). The highest point is Profitis Ilias, 269 metres (883 feet) above sea level.

Patmos' main communities are Chora (the capital city) and Skala, the only commercial port. Other settlements are Grikou and Kampos.


Street of Chora


Christian pilgrims frequently visit due to the island's connection with the prophet John and the writing of the Book of Revelation.[citation needed]


For emergencies, Patmos has a medical centre, with several medical doctors on the premises. When residents require hospitalization beyond first aid, they are airlifted out of the island by helicopter (in emergencies) to nearby hospitals or, if the weather permits, they are transported by ferry.[citation needed]



The Island of Patmos has regular ferry services, which connect it to the following ports: Agathonissi Island, Mykonos Island, Paros Island, Piraeus (the main port of Athens), Pythagoreio and Karlovassi on Samos Island, Syros Island, Leros Island, Naxos Island, Arkoi, Lipsi Island, Symi Island and Rhodes Island.

Notable people[edit]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns — Sister cities[edit]

Patmos is twinned with:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Απογραφή Πληθυσμού - Κατοικιών 2011. ΜΟΝΙΜΟΣ Πληθυσμός" (in Greek). Hellenic Statistical Authority.
  2. ^ "Pátmos: Greece". Geographical Names. Retrieved 2014-09-03.
  3. ^ Archived 2012-11-05 at
  4. ^ "Population & housing census 2001 (incl. area and average elevation)" (PDF) (in Greek). National Statistical Service of Greece. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-21.
  5. ^ Patmos – official website Archived 15 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine Legendary folk tales and mythology. Retrieved on 4 September 2008.
  6. ^ a b Patmos – official website Archived 15 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2008-09-04.
  7. ^ Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 81.4
  8. ^ a b – Patmos history. Retrieved on 4 September 2008.
  9. ^ Clyde E. Fant; Mitchell G. Reddish (23 October 2003). A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey. Oxford University Press, USA. pp. 94–. ISBN 978-0-19-513917-4.
  10. ^ Lieb, Michael (1998). Children of Ezekiel: Aliens, UFOs, the Crisis of Race, and the Advent of End Time. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press. pp. 140–142. ISBN 0822322684.
  11. ^ WHC-UNESCO-942, UNESCO, World Heritage Site #942.
  12. ^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Patmos" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  13. ^ Nylou Editorial
  14. ^ Interpress Agency: Refugees Kept At Sea Archived 15 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Forbes, webpage:[1].
  16. ^ Hope, Jonathan (12 September 1994). "Obituary: Teddy Millington-Drake". The Independent. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Twinnings" (PDF). Central Union of Municipalities & Communities of Greece. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-01-15. Retrieved 2013-08-25.

Further reading[edit]

  • Tom Stone: The Summer of My Greek Taverna: A Memoir, Simon & Schuster, New York NY 2003, ISBN 0-7432-4771-X (Stone brings readers into the tiny Greek island world of Patmos.)

External links[edit]