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PATMOS lies in the northern part of the Dodecanese between Ikaria and Leros about 180 miles from the mainland gateway of Piraeus.

It is about 15 miles long (25 km), has an area of 13 sq. miles (34 sq km) and a year-round population of approximately 2,800 inhabitants. It is a somewhat crescent-shaped island; in fact the outline might remind some of a seahorse. There are many small inlets and coves as well as sandy beaches scattered throughout the island.

Known for its significance in Christriandom, Patmos is considered by many as one of the holiest religious sites in the world. Scholars and pilgrims alike, as well as the curious holiday traveler, flock to Patmos to see where the Book of Revelations was penned. Patmos' importance in Christian history dates to the arrival of St. John the Theologian in 95 AD. John, the beloved disciple of Christ, was exiled to Patmos by Domatianus, emperor of Rome. Thus began the Christian era of Patmos. Legend has it that living on the island at the time was a magician by the name of Kynops (meaning dog face). When he found out that John had arrived in Patmos and was preaching the word of this new god to and baptizing Patmians, Kynops became enraged. The story goes that Kynops then set off to find John and confront him. Upon finding him, Kynops challenged John to prove the existence of this god by way of a duel of sorts in front of John's new Christian followers. Kynops told John to bring to life the father of one of the Patmian onlookers who was there. John refused to do so. Kynops then dove into the sea and brought to the surface a man resembling the Patmian's father, proudly flaunting his magical powers. The gathering crowd was awestruck and started cheering Kynops and chiding John. It was then that John began to pray to his god and made the sign of the cross, thereby causing Kynops to turn to stone. Some say the strange looking rock jutting out of the sea in Petra Bay is that of Kynops, which can be seen from Groikos. It is believed that John stayed on Patmos for between one and two years, living in a cave and dictating the Apocalypse, or Book of Revelations, to his pupil Prohoros, in which John prophesizes the fall of the Roman Empire amongst other things. In 1088 the Byzantine emperor Alexios Comnenus I deeded the island of Patmos, by way of a land grant, to Christodoulos the Latrinos as a reward for Christodoulos' prediction that the then downtrodden Alexios would someday ascend to the throne of the Byzantine Empire. Upon receiving the island of Patmos, Christodoulos founded the Monastery of St. John and had it built overlooking the Cave of the Apocalypse on top of the ruins of the temple of Artemis, the locally born patron goddess of Patmos in ancient times. The original structure was designed to look like a boat with its bow pointed towards the Ikarian sea.

Over the next few centuries the five-level structure was altered considerably to accommodate the growing needs of the monastery. The cells of the monks were built around the catholicon, the main church, according to Byzantine architectural standards. Today, although many of the regulations have become more relaxed, the island is still dominated by the Monastery of St. John.

 

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