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For better or worse, it can be difficult to reach Patmos—for many travelers, this lack of access is definitely for the better, since the island retains the air of an unspoiled retreat. Rocky and barren, the small, 34-square-km (21-square-mi) island lies beyond the islands of Kalymnos and Leros, northwest of Kos. Here on a hillside is the Monastery of the Apocalypse, which enshrines the
cave where St. John received the Revelation in AD 95. Scattered evidence of Mycenaean presence remains on Patmos, and walls of the classical period indicate the existence of a town near Skala. Most of the island's approximately 2,800 people live in three villages: Skala, medieval Chora, and the small rural settlement of Kambos. The island is popular among the faithful making pilgrimages to the monastery as well as with vacationing Athenians and a newly growing community of international trendsetters—designers, artists, poets, and “taste gurus” (to quote Vogue’s July 2011 write-up of the island)—who have bought homes in Chora. These stylemeisters followed in the footsteps of Alexandrian John Stefanidis and the English artist Teddy Millington-Drake who, in the early ’60s, set about creating what eventually became hailed as one of the most gorgeous island homes in the world. The word soon spread thanks to their many guests (who included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) but, happily, administrators have carefully contained development, and as a result, Patmos retains its charm and natural beauty—even in the busy month of August.
Atop a hill due south of Skala, the village of Chora, clustered around the walls of the Monastery of St. John the Theologian, has become a preserve...