Pátmos, Greece

The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of Pátmos

View on Chorá and the Monastery of Saint-John (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of Pátmos was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1999. Pátmos is one of the most northern of the Greek Dodecanese Islands in the Aegean Sea.

Monastery of Saint-John (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

It is reputed to be where Saint John the Theologian wrote both his Gospel and the Apocalypse (the Book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament), in around 95 AD, while he was in exile on the island for “bearing witness to Jesus”.

Church bells at the Monastery of Saint-John (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

A monastery dedicated to the “Beloved Disciple” was founded there in 1088 by Saint Christodoulos Latrinos of Pátmos, an emblematic figure of the Byzantine asceticism who had already established monasteries on two other Greek Islands. 

Monastery of Saint-John (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

Located on a site which dominates the whole island, the monastery was built using the volcanic stone of which the island is composed. Since its foundation, it has been a place of pilgrimage and of Greek Orthodox learning, and continues to be so to this day.

Monastery of Saint-John (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

The complex has been built up progressively over the centuries, evolving in an unplanned manner around a central courtyard. The first elements to be built were the Katholikón (main church) of the monastery, the Chapel of Panagía, and the refectory.

Fortified monastic complex (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

With the external appearance of a polygonal castle, the walls of the monastery are 15m high, and it has towers and battlements from which there is a magnificent view of the entire island.  

Belfry of the Monastery of Saint-John (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

The main entrance, on the north side of the monastery, consists of two rectangular towers which are connected by a wall. On the top of the wall there is a “murder-hole”, through which boiling oil, lead or water was poured onto attackers.

Frescoes, Monastery of Saint-John (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

Other areas of the monastery vividly illustrate and provide valuable information on monastic daily life. They include the kitchen, the oreton (granary), the pithones where oil was stored in pithoi (large earthenware jars), and the magiperon (bakery).

Frescoes, Monastery of Saint-John (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

It is indeed one of the finest surviving examples of a fortified medieval monastic complex and, today, is home to a remarkable collection of printed books, manuscripts, icons, and liturgical artwork and objects, which are safeguarded by the active monastic community of Pátmos.

Cave of Apocalypse (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

Midway along the steep and winding road that joins the villages of Skála and Chorá is Spilaion Apokalypseos – the Cave of the Apocalypse – where, according to tradition, St John dictated the Book of Revelation and his Gospel to his disciple, Prochoros.

Cave of Apocalypse (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

Only a fraction of the mural paintings that originally covered the walls of the cave survive, but one which dates back to the 12th century and shows the saint dictating to his disciple is still intact.

Chorá of Patmos (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

Chorá, at the top of the hill, was founded in the early 13th century, when people who were working for the monastic community settled around the monastery. The oldest settlement on the island, its many religious and secular buildings are extremely well-preserved. 

Patmos panorama (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

The settlement expanded over the centuries as refugees arrived first from Constantinople and, later, from Crete. A number of fine residential properties reflect a period during the late 16th and early 17th centuries when trade thrived under Ottoman occupation.

Chorá of Patmos (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

The town also contains a number of fine small churches. Dating mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries, they contain important mural paintings, icons, and other church furnishings.

Chorá of Patmos (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

The elements of the property are unique in several ways, whether considered as an ensemble or individually. Pátmos is the only example of an Orthodox monastery which integrated from its origins a supporting community, the Chorá, built around the hill-top fortifications. 

The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian (1999) by The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of PátmosUNESCO World Heritage

While fortified monasteries may be found in other parts of the Orthodox world, the Monastery of Hagios Ioannis Theologos is the only example in Greece of an organized settlement around a fortified monastic complex. 

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This exhibit was created by the Aegean Islands Tourism Board:
www.aegeanislands.gr

Credits: Story

More on The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of Pátmos and World Heritage:  whc.unesco.org/en/list/942

Photos: Aegean Islands

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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