The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of Pátmos
The Historic Centre (Chorá) With The Monastery Of Saint-John The Theologian And The Cave Of The Apocalypse On The Island Of Pátmos
Cultural Greece Europe And North America Prefecture Of Dodecanese, Region Of The South Aegean

The Monastery of Hagios Ioannis Theologos (Saint John the Theologian) and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the island of Pátmos, together with the associated medieval settlement of Chorá, constitute an exceptional example of a traditional Greek Orthodox pilgrimage centre of outstanding architectural interest. The town of Choráis one of the few settlements in Greece that have evolved uninterruptedly since the 12th century. There are few other places in the world where religious ceremonies that date back to the early Christian times are still being practised unchanged.

The Monastery of Hagios Ioannis Theologos and the Cave of the Apocalypse commemorate the site where St John the Theologian (Divine), the 'Beloved Disciple', composed two of the most sacred Christian works, his Gospel and the Apocalypse.

Pátmos is the northernmost island of the Dodecanese group with an area of some 88 km2 , is largely barren, formed from three volcanic masses connected by narrow isthmuses. There are three settlements: the medieval Chorá, the 19th-century harbour of Skála, and the small rural Kampos. The site selected by Christodoulos for his Monastery of Hagios Ioannis Theologos dominates the whole island.

Pátmos was colonized first by Dorian and then Ionian Greeks. When it was absorbed into the Roman Empire it was used, like other Aegean islands, as a place of exile for political prisoners. Among them was the Evangelist St John the Theologian (also known as St John the Divine), who was brought to the island in AD 95 during the reign of Domitian. Like so many of the Aegean islands Pátmos was devastated by Saracen raiders in the 7th century, and it was virtually uninhabited for the next two centuries. In 1088 Hosios Christodoulos, a Bithynian abbot who had already founded monasteries on Léros and Kos, obtained permission from the Byzantine Emperor Alexis I Comnenus to found a monastery on the island dedicated to St John. This was at a time when the imperial state was encouraging resettlement on the islands and shores of the Aegean, a policy that included the establishment of fortified monasteries.

The island was captured by the Venetians in 1208. It is around this period that the oldest settlement on Pátmos was founded, that of Chorá, when married lay brothers and other people working for the monastic community settled around the monastery. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 about 100 families were resettled in Chorá, to the west of the monastery, where they established the wealthy area known as Alloteina. At this time the appearance of the settlement was that of dispersed houses essentially rural in nature. Pátmos came under Turkish control in the early 16th century. Paradoxically, this marked the beginning of a period of prosperity for the islanders, who were granted certain tax privileges in exchange for their submission. The inhabitants of Chorátook advantage of these to engage in shipping and trade, and this is reflected in the fine houses built by wealthy merchants in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, a number of which survive to the present day.

This prosperity ended when the island was sacked by the Venetians under Francesco Morosini in 1659. Following the fall of Candia to the Turks in 1669, Venetians refugees were settled on the island. They created a new residential area, known as Kretika, the main square of which was named Agialesvia, dedicated to a female Cretan saint. The urban tissue began to change, the new properties being much smaller and densely packed. It was slowly to recover its former mercantile role, but in the later 18th century and throughout the 19th century Pátmos was once again a major trading centre. In the mid-18th century the Aporthiana quarters were formed as the town expanded. Many of the old houses were rehabilitated and new mansions were built.