Arriving by tender to the port town of Skala, you will board your waiting coach for the short drive to the Cave of St. John. This small cave, which is where St. John made his home during his time on the island, is the location that he wrote The Book of the Apocalypse. The cave was later converted into a beautiful chapel and within this splendidly adorned little church visitors can view the stone orifice he is said to have used as a pillow. Following your visit, you will re-join your coach and proceed to Chora.
Chora is where you will find the incredible Monastery of St. John. The devotions of Byzantine emperors and countless private contributors have made this monastery the richest in the Dodecanese. Its great wealth enabled it to establish the Theological School of Patmos in 1713, which still attracts students from all over the world. The monastery's dark façade with its huge buttressed walls provide an impressive contrast to the light, frescoed interior. During your visit you will walk under graceful archways and through corridors paved with small black pebbles like delicate cobblestone streets. You may also visit the monastery's five chapels, one of which contains the relics of its founder. Beautiful frescoes covering the chapel walls depict the tale of The Voyages and Miracles of St. John the Theologian. Included is a tour of the old treasury, now a marvelous museum housing collections of rare icons, jewelry, chalices, crowns, vestments, and delicate silver sailing ships inlaid with gemstones. The museum also houses 13,000 old manuscripts and volumes dating from 1073, which record the monastery's 900-year history. Among these treasures are 33 leaves of the Gospel of St. Mark, written in the 6th century in silver lettering on purple vellum.
Departing the monastery, you will take a guided stroll through the nearby winding streets where houses dating back to the 16th century are linked by a maze of steps and lanes that are interspersed with small squares. These silent, shuttered villas are owned by Athenians who prefer this town's quiet and classical lifestyle to the hectic pace of Athens. A stop is made at the 300 year-old Simandris House, which is home to a rich collection of antiques and architecture that represent an interesting combination of the Oriental tradition, and the Western fashion favored in the 19th century. Your tour winds down at a local taverna, where you have the opportunity to discover the Zorba in you as you sample tasty mezes with Greek wine or ouzo and enjoy some traditional Greek folk dances.
Returning to the pier, you have the option of proceeding directly to the ship, or staying in town to do some exploring on your own.
Please note: This tour consists of approximately 1 1/2 hours of moderate to strenuous walking/standing and is not available to wheelchair guests. The walk from the coach up to the Monastery is approximately 15 minutes and is uphill. Those guests with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Comfortable, flat-heeled, closed-toe walking shoes, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are recommended. Shoulders and knees must be covered while visiting the Monastery. Those who elect to stay in town are responsible for making their own way back to the pier.