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History of Patmos

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Legend has it that in ancient times Patmos rested at the bottom of the sea. It was only visible when Selene the Moon Goddess would shine over it.

Selene would often go to Mount Latmos to visit her lover King Endymion. This king was granted the privilege (by his father Zeus) of not ageing whenever he slept.
As he was often asleep, Selene would sit on top of Mount Latmos and talk to Artemis (Diana) who had one of her main sanctuaries there.

One evening Artemis noticed the small island glittering underneath the water from Selene’s beams as she approached. Artemis fell in love with it immediately and wanted it to be hers.
Realizing she was not strong enough to raise it from the seabed, she sent telepathic messages to her twin-brother Apollo, who was not keen on raising the island and spoke to his father Zeus who promised to help. Zeus asked permission from his brother Poseidon (Neptune) the powerful and feared God of the Sea, who had no interest in the little island and gave his approval.
And so, thanks to Zeus’ divine power the island of Patmos emerged from the sea in stunning beauty and the all-seeing Sun-god Helios (Selene’s brother) warmed the island with his rays and thereby gave it life. Artemis next persuaded some of the inhabitants of the area around Mount Latmos to go and live on the island - which they did to please her. In her honour they named it Litios that is another name of Artemis, meaning “daughter of Leto”.

An inscription in the museum of the monastery of St. John mentions that Orestes, pursued by the Furies for the murder of his mother, took refuge on Patmos and built the great temple of Artemis on the same site the Monastery is today.


1600-1200 BC: The earliest findings (mainly pottery ) date back to the Bronze and Mycenaean Age. The first settlers are believed to be the Carians from Asia Minor followed by the Mycenaean's.
1200 BC: The Dorian's descend from the north that gradually driving away the Mycenaeans .
400BC: The construction of the acropolis of Patmos on the hill of Kastelli near Skala.
App 200 BC:
Patmos comes under Roman rule ; it is used as a place of exile.
95-97 AD: The date St John the Divine was exiled to the island of Patmos where he wrote
The Book of Revelations. He stayed approximately 15 years before returning to Ephesus.
100 AD: Patmos is densely populated and prospers culturally, becoming an important fortress of the city-state of Miletus in Asia Minor.
284 AD: The Roman Empire is divided into a western and eastern state.
313 AD: The Christian religion is officially recognized in the Roman Empire.
390 AD: The end of Roman Times.
395 AD: The beginning of the Byzantine Empire.
400-600: Patmos and its people are culturally advanced, as is suggested by architectural remains of old Christian Basilicas. Most ancient temples are torn down due to growing popularity of Christianity.
600-900: Continuous raids by the Arabs (the caliphate of the Abbasids) and other tribes leave Patmos to waste, for most of the time the island remains deserted . Islam is spreading fast in the Mediterranean area.
904: After the conquest of Thessalonica many inhabitants are deported to Patmos .
Writings from prisoners suggest that the island then was waterless.
1054: The Christian Church divides in two, Greek-Orthodox and Roman Catholic.
1081: Alexios I. Komnenos becomes Emperor of the Byzantine Empire, the island comes under his protection and slowly becomes populated again.
1088: Osios Christodoulos was assigned the island of Patmos by the Emperor Alexios I. Komnenos. The first part of the monastery (The Chapel of Saint Anne) was constructed.
1091: Holy Christodoulos drafts the plans for the monastery of St. John and the building activities commence. The island is supposed to become a base of the Orthodox Church.
1093: Osios Christodoulos and the monks of the monastery are driven away by pirates.
Osios Christodoulos goes to Euboea, his final resting place.
1100: Building of the monastery is resumed by monks arriving at the island.
1127: The Monastery has received guarantees of protection from the Occidental powers, which allows the sea-faring merchants of Patmos to expand their commercial routes.
1132: The first homes in Hora were built by workers of the monastery.
1157 and 1158: Saracens launch attacks on the island, the monastery repels them, but the raids take
their toll on the population.
1186: Norman pirates attack the island causing yet more losses to the population.
1191: The king of France, Philip the C onqueror returning from the 3rd Crusade stops on the island, causing more unpleasant consequences.
1207: The monks of the monastery seek protection from the Pope , due to the conquest of Constantinople (in 1204) by the Crusaders.
1309: The knights of St. John (of Rhodes ) occupy Rhodes . In years to come they extend their sovereignty to other islands but maintain only a mild authority over Patmos .
1390: The people of Patmos and the monastery are forced to pay a tax to the Turks for protection.
1453: The Byzantine Empire falls to the Ottoman Turks, about a hundred Byzantine families from Constantinople flee to Patmos.
1480: The knights of Rhodes defeat the Ottomans after a siege on Rhodes, Patmos as most of the Dodecanese is influenced.
1522: The Turks occupy Rhodes. The Knights leave the island of Rhodes and the population of Patmos declines from 4000 to but a few.
1523: The Ottoman Empire installs a number of representatives for the collection of taxes.
1540: A period of peace begins for most of the islands as the wars between the Venetians and the Ottomans come to an end.
1590: The church of Panagia Diassozousa (Our lady of Intercession) was founded and then rebuilt
in 1956.
1600: The port is bustling with commercial traffic, warehouses are built for the storage of goods to be shipped. Patmos is an important Mediterranean port, its major exports are delicate cotton stockings, embroidery as well as art-work and with fine craftwork, decorative wood paintings. About the same time the monastery was rebuilt to its former state.
1655: Patmos has about 3000 inhabitants, no Turks are living on the island and the monastery exercis es administration.
1607: The nunnery of Zoodohos Pighi (Life Giving Source) is built.
1619: Cretan families immigrate to Patmos and settle around Platia Lesvias in Hora.
1659: Venetians pillage the island causing major damage to Hora.
1669: About 50 families come to Patmos from Crete fleeing from the Turks .
1700: Venetian rule. The Venetians make a stairway (skala) from the port to Hora, giving the port its current name Skala.
1713: The Patmiada School was founded by Makarios Kalogeras which was destined to become a glorious national secret centre for the Greeks. Generous donations from within the country and abroad make it possible to maintain the school as an elite underground centre.
1768: During “The Orlof incident”(Russian-Turkish war) Patmos becomes independent, the Monastery gains sole ownership and for the first time makes a gift of part of the island to the community.
1794: The first paved road from Skala to Hora.
1821: The beginning of the victorious Greek revolution, Patmos is liberated along with other regions of Greece. A major role played the “Philliki Etaireia” (Friendly Society ) one of the founders was a Patmian by the name of Emmanuel Xanthos. Distinguished members of the society were the also Patmians Dimitrios The m elis and B.Pangalos, all three were students of the Patmiada School .
1832: On the 9th of June the treaty of Constantinople is signed, which acknowledges Greek independence, yet Patmos along with the rest of the Dodecanese remain outside the boundaries of the Greek state.
1910: The first living quarters in Skala are built.
The Italian rulers turn the warehouses into administrative offices and the teaching of Greek is forbidden. The Patmiada School was closed down and slowly turns to rubble.
1937: The nunnery of the Annunction (Moni Tou Evangelismos) takes up its current form.
1943: After the collapse of Fascist Italy in the 2nd World War the island is occupied by the Germans.
1945: The Germans are forced to evacuate by the English who stayed until 1947.
1947: The teaching of the Patmiada School takes place in the cave of the R evelation.
1948: On the 7th of March the Greek flag is hoisted on all the islands of the Dodecanese, as they are officially united with the rest of Greece following centuries of struggling for freedom.
1948: The first telephone lines are laid on Patmos.
1950’s: The first tourists discover the island.
1951: The building of the new Patmiada School.
1952: The first power plant is installed.
1960’s: Despite the progress many Patmians continue to emigrate to Athens, Australia, America and Germany sending financial support to their families at home.
1966: The first bus service begins to operate.
1972: During the period of military dictatorship in Greece the current port is built with the help of government funds.
1983: Patmos is declared by the Greek Parliament in Athens to be formally and legally a Holy Island.
1988: The monastery of St John celebrates the 900th anniversary of its existence.
1995: Patmos celebrates 1900 years of the existence of St John's Revelation.
2001: From the 7th to the 14th of September, the 1st festival of religious music “The Holy Revelation of Music” is held at the amphitheatre built near the Cave of the Apocalypse

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