Patmos Architecture

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The residential planning of Patmos was defined by the monastery of Saint John the Theologian, as the entire territory of the island belonged to this very monastery. Even today the monastery owns a large part of the island.


During the 16th and 17th century, the first lordly mansions were built around the Chora of Patmos. At that time, mansions were large autonomous agricultural complexes and it was then that the first signs of rural aristocracy made their appearance. Rural aristocrats occupied large estates, and thus they gradually began to curtail the power of the monastery of Saint John. The new settlers and the Cretan refugees brought along a new level of culture and the urban lifestyle and comprised the ruling class together with the old Byzantine families. However, this first period of growth came to an abrupt end with the pillage and destruction of the Chora of Patmos by the Venetian admiral Morosini (1659), followed by the decline of the rural aristocracy. The ruling class was now the bourgeoisie and the ship owners. As result, since the mid-18th and during the 19th century, especially after the foundation of the School of Patmos (1713), the island went through strong intellectual, maritime and financial growth and experienced intense phenomena of urbanization, with a direct impact on the arrangement of the settlement of Chora. The large agricultural properties were now divided and many new residences and churches were built. Also, the character of the urban quarter began to take shape and the urban fabric expanded over new boundaries, especially with the creation of the Aporthiana quarter and the construction of buildings on the north ledge of the settlement’s hill. That was the time that Chora took its present form.


The houses of the Chora of Patmos –especially those on the perimeter –formed a type of defensive wall. The settlement was labyrinthine and the flat roofs (terraces) created a network of passageways, so that the residents could go from one house to another, in order to fortify vulnerable spots, or in case of great danger to get locked up in the monastery. A typical trait of Patmos houses is the mantomata, i.e. stones that are laid around the doors and windows, painted grey or ochre. The richer households had carved ones and the poorer plain stones. A type of mantoma is the “kantouni”, which can be found in the corners of some houses and was used so that the walls would be tied together. The colors most frequently used were brown, ochre and green –shades of blue became a trend in recent years. Gothic elements (such as arches, outside yards etc.) were added to the houses during the period of the Venetian domination, while neoclassical influences (pediments, railings etc) are found a bit later.


Malandraki, Pagkosta, Simantiri, Sofouliou, Sufantou, Alexaki, Valvi, Gazi, Kalliga, Palaiologou, Nikolaidi Mansion… The names of the very first proprietors of the famous mansions are known to all residents of the Chora of Patmos, despite the fact that most of those buildings may have passed later to new owners –Greeks and foreigners that settled in the Chora over the past years –or become coffee shops and bars. The mansions can be divided into three main categories. The first category includes mansions built between the 16th and 17th century outside the settlement. The residence of the lord-feudal ruler was located in the centre of a large land property and had many outdoor, indoor and semi-outdoor spaces as well as the characteristic mantomata. The second category is the urban houses that were built by the ship owners and the rich salesmen during the 19th century. All these houses overlook Skala, because the captains wanted to watch over their ships. The third category refers to the houses of the 18th century, built during the urbanization of Chora. You can see them in the Aporthiana quarter and the region located south of the monastery of Saint John.

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