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Dodecanese: Patmos Island, Chora

I rediscovered this island from my childhood, years after returning to Greece from studying abroad, and though I annually travel to many other islands, I came to the conclusion that Patmos, the Chora of Patmos especially, is blessed. The Monastery, a 1088 A.D. complex, is the heart of  a conglomerate of exceptional  architecture and natural beauty. My mother’s family’s roots are there, so one would come to the conclusion that Patmos is my favorite place in the world because of that. However, the village of Chora is unique in  itself. It has resisted -and still resists- the aggressiveness of a misguided sense of growth. Tourist caravans gasp at the settlement’s first glimpse – pure white castle-like houses, the amazing view of the harbour and the Monastery of St. John. The half hour “express” guided tour through the village, I am sure, is enough to establish Patmos as a unique experience they will carry back home. During August, or, more precisely, from July 20 to August 20, Chora turns into a humming beehive! This place is a ‘must’ for foreign and Greek artists and businessmen arriving at the island and occupying the houses of Chora. Anyone wishing to lead a cosmopolitan life should not be elsewhere during this time of year. If you cannot find accommodation in Chora, try your luck at another part of the island. Because the island of Patmos is so small, Chora’s distance from the rest of the island’s villages ranges between 4 and 10 kilometers! For me, the best time of the year to visit Patmos is spring. Better arrange this visit for (the) Easter holidays, when the island’s customs and traditions awake. Patmos does not share the rest of mainland Greece’s custom of lamb on the spit, still, Easter time remains special. Starting with the representation of the Epitaph in the village’s square on Great Thursday, the rituals reach their peak mainly at the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, where byzantine music and devoutness constitute centuries of tradition that is thoroughly followed by the monks until today. On Easter Sunday we usually rent a boat and take a small journey to my favorite part of the Aegean, just 12 nautical miles from Patmos harbour, Marathi. There is a tavern there, where the bread is home made, the food made with local (pure) products, followed by the also home made wonderful desert! You can find rooms to let right above the tavern. You should purposely miss the boat that takes you back to Patmos and spend the night there. The sunset at Marathi, along with company, greek wine, playing backgammon or chess, is guaranteed never to be forgotten. Switch off your mobile phone, forget about the social media fuss and live this dream with company or by yourself. Elina Dallas Architect