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Travel Guide Patmos Island Dodecanese Greece
Patmos is a symbol of faith and communication with God. Today it is a pole of attraction for monks from all over the world. This humble "Jerusalem of the Aegean", is a traditional place for asceticism and prayer and has opened its arms to many monasteries, kathismata (small monastic units) and retreats.
The first thing you notice on Patmos is the monastery of St John the Divine or the Evangelist. It crowns the hill of Hora. It looks like a Byzantine castle and was built like a fortress. Its presence is overwhelming. It was founded in 1088 by Ossios Christodoulos following a grant by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I. Komnenos.
The monastery's walls are over 15 meters high, its length from north to south is 53 meters and from east to west 70 meters. It seems even larger when you stand at the entrance, noticing its thick walls and heavily reinforced door.
Above the entrance, several meters high, there is a small opening from which burning hot oil, water, even lead was poured to attack pirates and other invaders trying to break the gate. This opening was called "the killer", and was considered the last resort for keeping the Monastery safe.
The monks used to sound the bells to warn the people of Patmos to take refuge behind the fortified walls of the monastery, keeping Christianity safe as was intended by its founder, the blessed Christodoulos.
96AD: in a grotto on Patmos the beloved disciple of Jesus, St. John the Apostle had a vision, a vision of the world to come. His student, Prohoros, wrote down this vision by order of the Lord, and it is known as the 27th and final chapter of the Holy Bible.
The spot around the cavern was the one initially chosen for the monastery of St John. Upon his arrival Osios Christodoulos decided to build it instead on a higher point (current position) making it less vulnerable to raids.
Wanting to fulfil his wishes, he built a retreat, covering the cave at its core. He started off by closing off the cave with the building of a chapel, he named it St Anne after his mother, the Virgin Mary's mother and the mother of emperor Alexios I. Komnenus, who was called Anne Dalassini and it was she who advised her son to cede the island of Patmos to Ossios Christodoulos.
Entering the cavern you realize its natural positioning and why the Lord picked this particular place in the world to reveal the Apocalypse. The rock formation is volcanic and unique, taking 100's of years to cool off. In the parts where the temperatures were at their highest the rocks appear like shining crystals.