Friday, 17 May 2013

Patmos, Island of the Revelation (Greece)



Patmos trip

The beautiful Greek island of Patmos has one major claim to fame - St John was exiled here, and in a small cave, had the visions which led to the writing of Revelations. Not such a bad place to be exiled, we thought to ourselves as we climbed steep and winding streets beneath clear blue skies, with panoramic views across the coast.

Unfortunately, photography is forbidden within the cave itself - and the silent, dark-robed Orthodox monk who guards the door looked balefully at my camera with an expression that seemed to say "you might think you can get away with a silent shot or two, if you don't use flash, but God will know and he will damn you to the end of time." I don't really believe it's likely I'd be damned to hell for my photographic sins, but I do believe in respecting the traditions of others, so I was good (sorry) and resisted the urge to sneak a few snaps.

The cave itself has been extended, and turned into a fully-fledged Orthodox shrine. I haven't had much experience of Orthodox churches, and was surprised by the tendency to cover everything in hammered silver or gold leaf. The three-part stone in the ceiling (from which the voice of God is said to have issued) remains a natural lump of rock, but the alcoves of John's pillow and hand-rest have been silver-lined, and the walls decorated with icons and crosses. Our group was split between those who "really felt something" in the cave and those who (like me) were intrigued but not totally absorbed in the experience.

Patmos trip

Patmos trip

At the highest point of the island, the Monastery of St John was founded to commemorate John's revelation. The monastery was also strict about photography within its chapel and museum, but the lovely courtyards presented plenty of photographic opportunities. The painted frescoes were impressive, and the museum was well-stocked, although not very informative to those of us not already familiar with the paraphernalia of the Orthodox church (it's another beautiful silver thingumy? Well, great, but what's one of those for?)

Patmos trip

Patmos trip

Patmos trip

Patmos trip

Patmos trip

Patmos trip

Patmos trip

Patmos trip

The island itself is also rather picturesque, and we enjoyed a pleasant stroll between whitewashed houses before returning to our boat.

Patmos trip

Patmos trip

Patmos trip

Patmos trip

Patmos trip

Patmos trip


6 comments:

Rachel said...

The frescos are marvellous, aren't they!

Elizabeth Braun said...

I suspect the whole cave business is more traditional than factual as there's no scriptural evidence to say where the Apostle John wrote down the Revelation beyond that it was on Patmos.

Come to think of it, I remember reading someone reviewing their trip to the 'Cave of the Nativity', but the Bible account doesn't state where the birth of Christ actually was, just that there wasn't any room left in lodgings.

Er, no, you're right, no-one is damned for taking photos, but I suspect they may be discouraged as people might see the photos later and decide they don't need to go and see the cave(s) in person - which I don't expect would be without entrance fee......=)LOL!!!

Looks like a lovely place. I'd love to see more of Greece. I've got in shaded in on my 'been to' map, but that only means a fortnight's package holiday on Zante!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

It looks an interesting and lovely place. I didn't know St John was exiled there.

A Cuban In London said...

I am in the final third of Jerusalem: a Biography and I have been learning a lot about the Greek Orthodox Church. Your post has made my reading experience richer. Many thanks. i loved the photos.

Greetinsg from London.

Becky Jerdee said...

Your photographs are truly di~ine (the ~ key on my keyboard is stuck) So many gorgeous arcs and rows of stone. Thanks, Rachel, for the refreshing little getaway :)

Fly Girl said...

Gorgeous pix Rachel! This post has taken my breathe away. Greece is beautiful anyway but you have really showcased the beauty on many levels here.

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