Easter on Patmos, the Island of Revelations

With the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian as the main focal point, Easter customs on Patmos are both timeless and profoundly spiritual.


Standing vigil over the main town of Hora from its lofty perch, the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian provides the perfect setting for experiencing the sacred rites of Greek Orthodox Easter in a profound and meaningful way. The stark landscape, the sugar-cube houses, and the vastness of the sea contribute to the special atmosphere of Easter on Patmos, while the monastery acts like a stronghold for its age-old customs.

It is worth timing your visit to start on Good Monday so you can experience all the different rites of Holy Week day-by-day – and the fewer the people on the island, the better the experience will be.

As you get close to Easter Sunday, the highlight on Good Thursday is the processions from the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian to Xanthou Square, where the abbot washes the feet of 12 monks in a representation of Christ washing the feet of his Disciples.

On Good Friday, the monastery’s paths and courtyard are strewn with lilac blossoms, while the procession of the Epitaphios (the funeral bier) around Hora is not to be missed. The Anastasi (Resurrection) Mass on Saturday night is celebrated with full pomp and circumstance, though the crush at the monastery can be quite daunting, so make sure to get there well ahead of time to find a good spot.

 

Another very special experience is at midday on Easter Sunday, when the Vespers of Love are read in English, French, Italian, Russian and Arabic.

Walks and excursions

Strongly associated with its religious elements and the history of early Christianity, Patmos has evolved into a tourism destination at a very moderate pace over the decades, retaining its distinctive character and architecture. The main town, Hora, is a magical labyrinth, complex and exciting, that’s a pleasure to get lost in as you wander from one small street to the next. The island gets far fewer tourists in the spring than it does in the summer, and prices also tend to be lower.

There are eight fascinating Culture Trails on Patmos and the best time to explore them is from April until the start of June. The busiest of these is the one that goes from the port of Skala to Hora; while it is an uphill climb, the view of the harbor village and the sea, and the pretty wildflowers growing along the path are ample reward.

Another pleasant walk is the 3-km trail from Hora to Groikos and on to Diakofti, while Hora is also a good place to start when exploring the island’s western part. Take the path to Kipous, which traverses a small seaside orchard of orange, lemon and carob trees and grapevines.

Where to stay

Patmos Residences (Agios Ioannis, Sapsila, Patmos, Tel. (+30) 6980.2830.04; from €500 for the entire villa; starting April 1). These three villas – of 80, 150 and 220 square meters respectively – are among the best options on the island, as they can host between four to six people and are perfectly suited for larger families or groups who want to share the cost of accommodation. Luxurious and modern, they feature all the usual comforts, a fully equipped kitchen, a sitting room and a swimming pool, while the larger unit also has a barbecue. All afford a sea view and daily cleaning service. 

Patmos Exclusive Villas (Skala, Patmos, Tel. (+30) 22471.112.68; from €100 for the 2-person house; starting April 1) offers an impressive selection of houses and villas covering the needs of different types of travelers. From the two-story house in Hora with the built-in beds, the jacuzzi and the sea-view balcony to the impressive, 250 square meter villa on the road between Hora and Skala, there is something for large families and groups of friends, to smaller units for smaller groups. The studios in Skala – decorated in shades of blue and white – are perfect for couples, while the same complex contains apartments sleeping two to four people. If you’re looking for peace and isolation, there are three large houses just outside Hora and the port: one overlooking Agriolivado Bay, the other above the beach at Meloi and the third in Sapsila.

 

Maria’s Little Suite (Skala, Patmos, Tel. (+30) 694.672.5338; from €100 for 2 people) is a collection of lovely bungalows located just 800 meters from the port and from its cafes and restaurants. Inspired by the traditional architecture, the décor is simple and modern, and very relaxing. The houses are ideal for 4-5 people and are comfortable furnished, with a dining room, a well-equipped kitchen, a washing machine and a television.

Latmos 1860 (Skala, Patmos, Tel. (+30) 697.271.2465; from €70 for 2 people, without breakfast) comprises four independent apartments ranging in size from 30 to 90 square meters. Two are on the ground floor and have access to the lovely big garden, while the third is a big unit on the floor above that can accommodate up to 7 people. With its vaulted roof, romantic ambiance and private courtyard, fourth unit, the Cave Suite, is perfect for couples.

Note that most accommodations units on Patmos do not open until late May or early June. Nevertheless, there are quite a few options – mostly houses, apartments and villas – that are available all year round.



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