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Unesco Monuments
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Chora is the capital of Patmos and constitutes one of the most beautiful medieval residential groups of the Greek islands. It is listed at Unesco’s World Heritage monuments and attracts many tourists every year. Chora is frequently referred as “The Queen of the lands” thanks to its monastery and the unique residencies.

Chora was developed when Osios Christodoulos started constructing the monastery. The first settlement spread in circular order and housed the islanders who moved from the north part of the island to protect themselves from the pirates. The settlement kept its original form until 1453 when some refugees from Constantinople created the settlement Alloutina. After the fall of Candia some Cretan refugees moved in Chora and created one more new settlement (1669). Folk cube-shaped houses and two-storey mansions (Captains’ residencies) with high walls were joined together creating a second wall. As mentioned, there were five entrances to Chora. In its internal part the cobble-stone, narrow, labyrinth-like streets in combination with the arches that were created from the opposing houses made the pirates’ approach to the centre pretty hard. In fact many of these arches had gates that set them one more obstacle the invaders had to face.

Although the houses seem simple and unsophisticated constructions their interior (especially the mansions) is luxurious and majestic. Many of them had got large warehouses for the grains’ storage, ovens and cisterns.

Agialedias Square and the surrounding alleys is the core of the tourist attention during the summer months. Chora’s heart beats here!

Apart from the Monastery of St. John at the top of the settlement, one can visit the house where the leader of the Friendly Society of Em. Xanthos was born (behind City Hall) as well as Andreas Kalatzis Art Gallery that exhibits works of the homonymous artist and many others.

The Monastery of St. John the Theologian

In the late 11th century AD (1088) Monk Christodoulos Latrinos got permission from the Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus to found the monastery of St. John the Theologian. The monastery became the core around which Chora was developed. The monk started constructing the church at the top of a hill on the foundations of the ancient Temple of Goddess Artemis. The largest part of the church was built within three years. Its architecture resembles the structure of medieval castles with the characteristic defensive line. The fortification was necessary to defend against pirates’ invasions.

The uniqueness of this monastery is that is the result of continuous additions and alterations from its establishment until today. Most of its buildings were constructed in different periods besides the Catholicon, the Holy Table and some parts of the walls. As a matter of fact it is a combination of Byzantine church-architecture and western medieval architecture with influences from the Knightly period.

Inside the castle stood a small Catholicon that was surrounded by the Holy Table, the cells, the cisterns and other secondary buildings. The layout of the church follows the Byzantine monasteries’ features in a more free form due to the rough terrain. All buildings grow linearly in wings at the Catholicon’s perimeter. The church is cross-in-square and is divided into three sections (the Exonarthex, the Narthex, and the main church). The chapels and the facade’s arcade were added later. The wood-carved and gilded screen (1820) is a priceless treasure and was donated by the Bishop Nektarios Sardis.

The icons and the murals that decorate the complex’s buildings are of great religious and historical importance. The Byzantine and post-Byzantine creations in the Catholicon and the chapel of Virgin Mary are excellent samples of this art. The most notable from these are the murals of the 16th century 'the Massacre of the Infants’, and scenes from ‘the Birth’ and ‘the Parable of the Ten Virgins’ (at the inner Narthex of the Catholicon). The murals; ‘the Enthroned Virgin and Child’ (1176) and ‘Abraham’s Hospitality ‘are just some of the artworks you can admire in the chapel of Virgin Mary.

The monastery has got a remarkable Library, which is housed in one of the safest spots. It includes 890 religious manuscripts (written on paper or parchment (6th-19th centuries)), an archive with about13000 documents and 2000 books of different topics and historical periods. In the vault room there are kept and exhibited many works of goldsmith and metallurgy, religious vestments and veils as well as a rich collection of icons. A laboratory of maintenance and restoration of the sacred relics and icons operates in the complex.

The monastery has been listed (1999) in Unesco’s World Heritage monuments.


The Cave of the Apocalypse

The holy cave of the Apocalypse stretches on the way from the port of Skala towards Chora. At this cave the Evangelist John revealed God’s prophetic word and wrote the book of the Apocalypse along with his discipline Prohorus. According to the Orthodox tradition, the cave was torn and the voice of God dictated to John the text of the Apocalypse from three smaller openings (that symbolize the Holy Trinity).

The cave was turned into a place of worship from Osios Christodoulos. Nowadays you can enter the small temple that stands right next to the cave (southern part) through some stairs. The temple and the cave are decorated with icons and wall paintings the most characteristic of which represents ‘the Vision of the Apocalypse' (1596).The spots where Prohoros leaned to write what John dictated and where the Saint rested to pray are still visible.

Today this dark cave is one of the most important places of Christian faith and pilgrimage and attracts a large number of visitors every year.







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