One of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex, it has a population of 2,998 and an area of 34.05 km2. The highest point is Profitis Ilias, 269 metres above sea level. The Municipality of Patmos, which includes the offshore islands of Arkoi, Marathos, and several uninhabited islets, has a total population of 3,047 and a combined land area of 45.039 square kilometres. It is part of the Kalymnos regional unit.
Patmos' main communities are Chora, and Skala, the only commercial port. Other settlements are Grikou and Kampos. The churches and communities on Patmos are of the Eastern Orthodox tradition. The mayor of Patmos is Gregory Stoikos.
Patmos is mentioned in the Book of Revelation. The book's introduction states that its author, John, was on Patmos when he was given a vision from Jesus. Early Christian tradition identified this writer as John the Apostle, though some modern scholars are uncertain, and thus call him the less specific "John of Patmos".
Because of the Book of Revelation, Patmos has a long history as a destination for Christian pilgrimage. Visitors can see the cave where John is said to have received his Revelation, and several monasteries on the island are dedicated to Saint John.
In 1999, the island's historic center Chora, along with the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse, were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The monastery was founded by Saint Christodulos. Patmos is also home to the Patmian School, a notable Greek seminary.
According to a legend in Greek mythology, the island's original name was "Letois", after the goddess and huntress of deer Artemis, daughter of Leto. It was believed that Patmos came into existence thanks to her divine intervention.
The myth tells how Patmos existed as an island at the bottom of the sea. Artemis frequently paid visits to Caria, the mainland across the shore from Patmos, where she had a shrine on Mount Latmos. There she met the moon goddess Selene, who cast her light on the ocean, revealing the sunken island of Patmos.
Selene was always trying to get Artemis to bring the sunken island to the surface and hence to life. Selene finally convinced Artemis, who, in turn, gained her brother Apollo's help to persuade Zeus to allow the island to arise from the sea.
Zeus agreed, and the island emerged from the water. The sun dried up the land and brought life to it. Gradually, inhabitants from the surrounding areas, including Mount Latmos, settled on the island and named it "Letois" in honour of Artemis.
Patmos is seldom mentioned by ancient writers. Therefore, very little can be conjectured about the earliest inhabitants. In the Classical period, the Patmians prefer to identify themselves as Dorians descending from the families of Argos, Sparta and Epidaurus, further mingling with people of Ionian ancestry.
During the 3rd century BC, in the Hellenistic period, the settlement of Patmos acquired the form of an acropolis with an improved defence through a fortification wall and towers.
Patmos is mentioned in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible. The book's introduction states that its author, John, was on Patmos when he was given (and recorded) a vision from Jesus. Early Christian tradition identified this writer John of Patmos as John the Apostle. As such, Patmos is a destination for Christian pilgrimage. Visitors can see the cave where John is said to have received his Revelation (the Cave of the Apocalypse), and several monasteries on the island are dedicated to Saint John.
After the death of John of Patmos, possibly around 100, a number of Early Christian basilicas were erected on Patmos. Among these was a Grand Royal Basilica in honour of Saint John, built c. 300–350 at the location where the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian stands today.
Early Christian life on Patmos, however, barely survived Muslim raids from the 7th to the 9th century. During this period, the Grand Basilica was destroyed. In the 11th century, the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos gave Christodoulos the complete authority over the island of Patmos, as well as the permission to build a monastery on the island. The construction of the monastery started in 1101. It was under rule of Republic of Venice between 1207 and 1340 and then Knights Hospitaller between 1340 and 1522.
Population was expanded by infusions of Byzantine immigrants fleeing the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, and Cretan immigrants fleeing the fall of Candia in 1669.
The island was controlled by the Ottoman Empire for many years, but it enjoyed certain privileges, mostly related to tax-free trade by the monastery as certified by Ottoman imperial documents held in the Library.. Ottoman rule in Patmos ("Batnaz" in Ottoman Turkish) was interrupted by initially Venetian occupation during Candian War between 1659 and 1669, then Russian occupation during Orlov Revolt between 1770 and 1774 and finally during Greek War of Independence.
In 1912, in connection with the Italo-Turkish War, the Italians occupied all the islands of the Dodecanese (except Kastellorizo), including Patmos. The Italians remained there until 1943, when Nazi Germany took over the island.
In 1945, the Germans left and the island of Patmos remained autonomous until 1948, when it, together with the rest of the Dodecanese Islands, joined the independent Greece.
In September 2008, the municipality of Patmos refused landing to a group of undocumented refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq. On the weekend of September 19, 2008, about 134 refugees were rescued at sea. The refugees were taken to Patmos, the nearest municipality, for processing and care. The administration refused them permission to land. Eventually they were sent to the island of Leros where they were processed and given humanitarian aid. Local authorities justified their action by contrasting it to alleged practices elsewhere in the EU: "Malta sinks their boats and Italy lets them drown", local leaders claimed.
Forbes magazine, in 2009, named Patmos "Europe's most idyllic place to live", writing that "Patmos has evolved over the centuries but has not lost its air of quiet tranquility, which is one reason why people that know it return again and again".
Patmos is situated off the west coast of Turkey and the continent of Asia. It is one of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex. It is further west than its nearby neighboring islands.
It contains an area of 34.05 km2 (13.15 sq mi). The highest point is Profitis Ilias, 269 metres (883 feet) above sea level.
Patmos' main communities are Chora (the capital city) and Skala, the only commercial port. Other settlements are Grikou and Kampos.
Christian pilgrims frequently visit due to the island's connection with the prophet John and the writing of the book of revelations.
For emergencies, Patmos has a medical centre, with several medical doctors on the premises. When residents require hospitalization beyond the first aid care, they are airlifted out of the island by helicopter (on emergencies) to nearby ones or, if the weather permits, they are transported by the ferry.
The Island of Patmos has regular ferry service, which connects it to the following ports: Agathonissi Island, Mykonos Island, Paros Island, Piraeus (the main port of Athens), Pythagoreio and Karlovassi on Samos Island, Syros Island, Leros Island, Naxos Island, Arkoi, Lipsi Island, Symi Island and Rhodes Island.