A small volcanic island in the Egean Sea, off the coast of Asia Minor, to the south of Samos and west of Miletus, in lat. 37° 20' N. and long. 26° 35' E. Its length is about ten miles, its breadth six miles, and its coast line thirty seven miles. The highest point is Hagios Elias (Mt. St. Elias) rising to over 1050 feet. The island was formerly covered with luxuriant palm groves, which won it the name of Palmosa; of these groves there remains but a clump in the valley called «The Saint's Garden». The ancient capital occupied the northern isthmus. The modern town of Patmos lies in the middle part of the island. Above it towers the battlements of St. John's Monastery, founded in 1088 by St. Christobulus. The Island of Patmos is famous in history as the place of St. John's exile: «I, John . . . was in the island, which is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus there according to general belief the Beloved Disciple wrote the Apocalypse, the imagery of which was in part inspired by the scenery of the island. The spot where St. John was favoured with his revelations is pointed out as a cave on the slope of the hill, half way between the shore and the modern town of Patmos. «The Jerusalem of the Aegean» is one way of describing Patmos as it was referred to in one 5th century inscription. It was here that St. John the Theologian was exiled between 95 and 97 A.D. and was inspired to write the Book of Revelation or Apocalypse. Later the emperor Alexios Komninos ordered the monk Christodoulos Letrinos to found a monastery in honour of the Apostle. Thus the holy monastery of Patmos was built, the most important landmark on the island. In September 1995 it was celebrated the anniversary of the 1900 years from the date that the Book of Revelation was written. Patmos, situated between Leros and Ikaria, is a mountainous island with rocky soil and an abundance of small coves. The majestic fortress - monastery crowns the hill above the port, surrounded by dazzling white, cubelike houses which spill down its flanks. Interspersed among them are miniscule churches and grand sea captains' mansions, separated from each other by narrow lanes, high walls and small squares opening onto breath - catching views over the Aegean. The construction of the monastery began in the 11th century. It is circumscribed by massive grey stone walls with battlements that protected the main church and another five chapels. Its extraordinary treasury contains Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons, sacred vessels, 9th century embroideries and other pricelless objects, while its library houses parchment documents, patriarchal seals, illuminated manuscripts and rare old books. In the chapel dedicated to Our Lady frescoes can be seen which date to 1210-1220.
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