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Τετάρτη, 9 Ιανουαρίου 2013

Monastery in Patmos

Area: SKALA Visiting Hours: DAILY FROM 08:00-13:00 AND 14:00-16:00 ON SUNDAYS, TUESDAYS AND THURSDAYS.
Contact: ΤΕL- (+30) 22470 31276

The cave of the Revelation is within walking distance of Skala (1.5km) and Hora (1.6km). Its entrance is on the main road between Hora and Skala as shown on this picture and map. There is a regular bus service that leaves you close to the entrance. This bus is the route that takes you between Skala and Hora . Ask the driver to tell you when to get off, if you are not sure yourself.

By foot: From Skala you can walk up by either taking the main road or the shorter and more picturesque approach “the Old Path”. The same applies for walking from Hora. The path starts at these parts of the main road as shown on these pictures and maps.


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 Holly 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 hermitage, 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 rare, taking 100's of years to cool off, it shines at some points from the water that was trapped in it without vaporizing.

To the right there is the sacred cave and church of Saint John the Divine. In the centre between the cave and the chapel the low rock ceiling reaches out in clear threefold split, the sign of the Holly Trinity, it is also the sign that the orthodox pilgrims shape their fingers into to make the sign of the cross starting from their foreheads. 

Looking closely at the three - part rock you will notice that it is very odd that a rock should split in three like that, there is no logical explanation of the shape of the rock except that it was through there that God communicated with Saint John giving him the vision of the Apocalypse.

In the back of the cave there is a fenced off section were a niche in the rock shows were the saint laid his head to rest. To the left if you look closely you will see a relief of a Greek cross that locals believe was not done by human hands.

A little higher to the right there is another niche, where he held on to the rock to raise himself up from his resting place and to lean against while dictating the words of god to his pupil Prohoros who stood next to him, on a natural rock desk that can still be seen.
Continuing right and close to the entrance, a narrow channel in the rock that miraculously provided water to the both of them, from a spring that cannot be found to date.

There is a monk and/or spiritual leader that will guide you through the cave awaiting you at the entrance, although it is recommended to sit on one of the stools and sink in the energy of this miraculous cave that some believe is one of the great mysteries of the world. In the monastery complex there are also two more churches, one of St. Artemios (18th century) and St. Nickolaos, monk cells, and other facilities as would be expected in a monastery, most of which were built by Osios Christodoulos and his men in 1088 .

According to historians St. John and Prohoros stayed 18 months on Patmos, and then returned to Ephesus, the place they were exiled from for preaching in the Lord's name. There, they wrote the 4th book of the New Testament.

Area: CHORA Visiting Hours: DAILY FROM 08:00-13:00 AND 14:00-16:00 ON SUNDAYS, TUESDAYS AND THURSDAYS.
Contact: TEL-(+30) 22470 31276

HOW TO GET TOThe nunnery lies to the southwest below Hora. It will take 20 minutes on foot from the bus station in Hora. There is a road that takes you to the entrance, to get there turn right at the first large crossroad as you leave Hora for Grikos, turn right again at the first street, over the hill and follow the turning road to the nunnery. At one point on this road you can turn off and it may seem that you are continuing your way up to Hora this is the wrong way.

Without private transport you can catch a bus to Hora. Walk up to the old market place “Platia Losa” that is easily distinguished from the statue of Emmanuel Xanthos and the town hall. Walk past the town hall down a narrow street, you will pass a small mini-market on the left and soon come to a crossroad. Keep to the right until the next junction, where there are three wooden arrows, one will lead you down a flight of stairs. There, after two side streets you turn right, and right again when the street forks. Continue until you reach a small square. Here you choose the path on the right until you come to three whitewashed chapels. The biggest of them (on the right) is a tiny nunnery with one nun and for a small contribution may be visited. On the right behind this chapel-nunnery is a footpath through untouched landscape. After about 400 meters the footpath divides, the left turn takes you to an asphalt road that leads you to the gate of the nunnery.

The convent of the Annunciation or Evangelismos is situated on the southwest side of Hora overlooking the Bay of Kypos (gardens) and is about a 15 minute walk from the bus station.

The convent started off as a small chapel with a hermitage until 1613 when Nikiphoros, an abbot from the monastery of St. John the Divine, renovated the building and dedicated it to Luke the Evangelist.

The hermitage was then supplemented with new buildings in 1937 by the monk Amphilohios Makris thus founding the Convent of the Annunciation.
The sisterhood is home to over 40 nuns who apart from praying, occupy themselves with social welfare, gardening, beekeeping and Byzantine embroidery called the"spitha" (spark).

The same stitch was used to make embroidery for aristocratic Byzantine families from the time of Hosios Cristodoulos.

The convent consists of the church Evangelistra (our lady of the Annuction) connecting with the side chapel of Agios Loukas (St. Luke) and the chapel of Agios Antonios (St. Anthony) situated in the tower of the convent.

The icons in the church date back to the 15th, 16th and 17th century.

Area: CHORA Visiting Hours: DAILY FROM 08:00-13:00 AND 14:00-16:00 ON SUNDAYS, TUESDAYS AND THURSDAYS.
Contact: ΤΕL-(+30) 22470 20800

To get to the monastery; follow the steep uphill paved road to the left after the kiosk that is near the bus station. You will pass a couple of restaurants and gift shops. At the end of the uphill and next to Artemis gift shop , at your left there are stairs that lead you to the Monastery. As shown on this picture.

The bus service runs regularly from Skala, Hora, Grikos and Kambos. Check the timetables for details. If you choose to drive, parking will not be a problem , but do have in mind that no driving or riding is allowed in Hora itself. In the afternoon do consider taking a bus to Hora and walking down the Old Path to the Cave of the Revelation and to Skala.

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 over 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.

The main entrance is on the north side. There is a smaller entrance on the south side that is now closed off.
The monastery was not fully complete in 1088 and changed along with the wants and needs of the monks and the church.

The oldest parts are the eastern and northern sides; they can be distinguished by their irregular shaped walls that were constructed in haste during the first years in order to complete the protection of the area.

As you enter the gate you come to the main courtyard laid in by local pebbles and stones. Looking around you notice many different levels as a result of rearrangements and additions that have taken place over the centuries .

In the centre of the courtyard there is a round covered structure that looks like a well. It is in fact a very large jar that was once used to store wine and now contains holy water.

To your left is the main chapel, one of the first buildings to be erected in 1090.

As you face the main chapel (catholicon), there are four arched colonnade s and behind them the outer narthex that has wall paintings, the upper paintings are from the 17th century and represent different miracles performed by Saint John the Divine. The lower date from the 19th century.
To the right of the main chapel is the chapel of the Holy Christodoulos. Inside it are the skull of St Thomas, pieces of the Holy Cross and other religious relics.

Inside the main chapel you will notice the overwhelming and three dimensional carved wooden iconostasis, dating from 1820 this iconostasis replaced an older one from the 15th century, which in its turn had replaced the original marble one that Hosios Christodoulos had placed. The current iconostasis is a gift from Nektarios, the Patmian metropolitan of Sardis and was made by 12 wood carvers from the island of Hios. Its detail is astonishing and leaves visitors gazing visitors speechless.

The acoustics of the room are incredible. Listening to Byzantine hymns during mass is an unforgettable experience.

The Orthodox Church does not allow more than one ceremony per alter, per day so the monastery has 10 chapels, three of them are outside the boundaries of the monastery. At the entrance in the north is Saint Apostles, Saint George is to the east and Saint Fanourios on the west of the monastery. Inside the monastery are the chapels of Holy Christodoulos, St Nicholas, St John the Baptist, St Basil, The Holy Cross, All Saints and the chapel of the Virgin Mary.
To the right of the main church is the chapel of the Holy Christodoulos, inside are his remains as he requested after his death in 1093.

Also next to the main church, is the chapel of The Virgin Mary. The wall paintings of this room and in the main chapel date back from the 12th century and onwards. No words could sufficiently describe their beauty.

Behind the chapel of The Virgin Mary and extending to the south is the refectory where the monks ate their meals together. It is a rectangular room about 50 square meters and 8 meters high, there are two long tables covered with marble. There are niches in them where monks placed their personal items and beautiful frescos and wall paintings dating back to 1180.

Across the main courtyard on the first floor , is the old bakery, where the remains of a huge stone oven can be seen and a long wooden trough where the monks used to kneed their bread.

These were built in 1088 and are mentioned in the writings of Holy Christodoulos when he elected a man from the brotherhood, to become responsible for the running and maintenance of the room, a man he referred to as “the cellar man”.

The museum is located next to the bakery and has an entrance fee of 6 euros. It was also erected by the Blessed Christodoulos who bequeathed to it his most precious icons listed in his will. It's an amazing collection of icons, original manuscripts from the bible, objects of silver and gold, sacred relics, vestments embroiled with silver or gold threads, coloured silk threads and bejeweled with precious stones to list a few. Most of the items within the museum , have to be seen to be properly appreciated.

The Blessed Christodoulos also founded the monastery library. When he arrived on the island he brought with him his personal library including manuscripts from the monastic area of Mt. Latmos. The library is now home now to more than 3000 printed books, 900 manuscripts and 13000 documents dating back to 1073.This room is not open to the public except by special permission , usually for Byzantine and biblical scholars.

The rest of the monastery consists of 2 treasures treasuries, the monk's cells, the flourmill, store rooms, a conference room and a research room with new books and magazines. All these areas are not open to the general public.

Area: CHORAVisiting Hours: DAILY FROM 08:00-13:00 AND 14:00-16:00 ON SUNDAYS, TUESDAYS AND THURSDAYS.
Contact: ΤΕL-(+30) 22470 31991

This Nunnery is in the south-western part of Hora. To get there find your way to Hora and start at the square “Platia Losa”, where you will find the town hall and the statue of Emmanuel Xanthos. This was once the location of the old market place.

Walk past the town hall and down a narrow street. You will pass a mini-market on the left and soon come to a crossroad. Keep to the right until the next junction, where there are three wooden signs on the walls. One shows the way to the Nunnery of the Annunciation and two on the right say in Zoodohou Pigis here you take the small street indicated until a small alleyway opens on your left. Five meters down this the entrance to the nunnery. A narrow passage takes you between high white walls past a main entrance and a big wooden gate reinforced with iron. Half of it which stands open invitingly during visiting hours.

Zoodohou Pigis is a womens' convent in Hora that was founded by the abbot of the monastery of St. John, Parthenios Pangostas in 1607.

It’s a 5-minute walk from the monastery and not touristy making it peaceful and fulfilling.

Even though it's under renovation (and will be so for a while due to lack funds), the little you see of the convent is enough to make it worth the effort.

The courtyards are filled with bougainvilleas and other flourishing flowers well taken care of by the nuns.

There are two churches inside, Zoodohou Pigis and St. John the theologian, both have icons of the 16th to the 18th century.

Apart from philanthropic work the nuns also make incense and sow or embroil religious garments.

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