After a night of unusually strong winds, our Star Clipper ship gracefully sailed into the port of Skala, Patmos, situated off the west coast of Turkey and one northernmost island of the Dodecanese Archipelago. Since we’re both interested in history and culture, visiting the island was one of the main reasons to choose this itinerary. The historic center (Chora) with the fortresslike Monastery of St. John -- the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse are UNESCO designated heritage sites. Located about a halfway to the Monastery, the sacred grotto is believed to mark the spot where St. John, during his exile in Patmos, received his visions from Christ and wrote the Book of Revelation at the end of 1st Century A.D. Today Patmos is significant Christian pilgrimage site.
Key Historical Note #1: The New Testament Gospel According to John is generally thought to include the Book of Revelation (“apocalypse” in Greek), referred to here. However, John of Patmos is no longer considered to be the same as John (“the Apostle”), who composed the rest of the gospel.
Key Historical Note #2: Also please note that John the Baptist is generally thought to be, again, another different figure.
Patmos is one of the smallest islands in the Aegean (7.5 miles long & 6 miles wide), and you can easily explore it if you rent a scooter for approximately 25 Euro.
Travel Tip: You must be experienced with driving a scooter on island roads, otherwise the rental store will not rent it to you.
Travel Tip: There are taxi stands, conveniently located right by the port where you can get a round trip taxi from the port to Monastery of St. John & the Cave of Revelation for approximately 45 Euro for two people.
Feeling adventurous, my husband and I decided to walk. Google Maps showed us that the walking distance from Skala port to Cave of St John was approximately 25 min. With the map pulled on our phones, we started following the signs to the Cave of the Apocalypse. We quickly found stairs and continued our ascent walking on the same road used by cars and scooters. As expected, in less than a half an hour we reached our destination.
Travel Tip: You can follow the same road uphill to the main town Chora and the Monastery of St. John.
We paid the entrance fee, which was about 2 Euro and after descending a few stairs, we reached a small door. The humble entrance was adorned with mosaics, depicting the visions of St. John. Inside the small grotto the limited light was facilitated by candles, and in the back of the grotto we saw the nightly resting place of St. John’s head, fenced off and outlined with beaten silver. No pictures were allowed inside.
Minutes after we entered, a Greek priest appeared by the altar and started chanting Byzantine hymns. Listening to the centuries-old mass in this holy place was such a memorable experience!
After spending a half an hour inside we were ready to explore more! Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the Chora and St. John’s Monastery, but this is a reason to return again to the Holy Island.
It was one of the hottest days in August and my husband was eager to check out the local beaches. Back at the Skala Port around noon, the little town was quiet and sleepy. There was a small beach right in the port which we passed by, but we decided to check Lampi Beach which was recommended, located on the opposite side of the island.
After another half an hour walk uphill and downhill and passing local houses and grazing sheep :) we found Lapmi Beach. Fortunately, there were just a few people there, including guests from our ship. The beach was small and narrow, but the waters were shallow and clear. We even saw few schools of fish while snorkeling.
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