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Abbey of the Apocalypse by BricksandStones Abbey of the Apocalypse by BricksandStones

This is the medieval, Byzantine monastery of Saint John the Theologian on the island of Patmos (northern Dodecanese, Greece). Fortified with towers and machicolations, the abbey stands atop a mountain where the cave of the apocalypse is located. Inside, St John is said to have received visions from God, portraying the end of the world:  the coming of the four riders of the apocalypse, the seven trumpets sounded by seven angels, the plagues, the Idolatress of Babylon riding a seven headed beast and the armies of heaven, commanded by Archangel Michael fighting the dragon. These are some of the most powerful images conveyed in the Holy Bible and Patmos, as the only part of Greece marked by the Apocalypse of God, the Divine Presence and the Epiphany, is one of the most holy sites of the Greek world.

Despite its Biblical importance, the Byzantine monastery was only established on Patmos in the 11th C. It was founded by emperor Alexios I Komnenos who, faced with Islamic invasion in Asia Minor, endowed many Aegean islands with gifts and support (e.g. he founded the monastery on the island of Amorgós  -> fav.me/d8rmiji ). Patmos, however, is unique as it is one of the few Byzantine abbeys that have never been looted. Local monks were frequently forced to pay tribute to foreigners: Venetians, Genoese, the knights of St John from Rhodes and the Ottoman Empire, but its powerful walls were never breached. Thus, the monastery’s library preserves over 1000 manuscripts including priceless codices such as the 6th C. purple codex as well as hundreds of other pieces of art. This level of continuity is rare even in Western Europe. Surrounded by medieval village (Chora), the monastery on Patmos is truly a piece of Byzantium that has survived and flourishes even today.

For me, the most fascinating exhibit was the original document (Chrysobul) in which Emperor Alexios ceded the island of Patmos and nearby islets to create a new monastery. I was told the monastery has six copies of this documents, the Chrysobull takes the form of a scroll, more than one meter long. At the bottom of the scroll, you can actually see Emperor’s Alexios hand written signature, written in imperial purple of course! You can see it for yourself here: www.google.com/culturalinstitu…; . It’s amazing!

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:iconmartinlestrange:
MartinLestrange Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2017  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
This made me think of jehda, from Rogue One a Star wars story
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2017
Hi - thank you for taking the time to view this and comment - I never thought about this in this way but now that you mention it - yes - there seem to be a degree of resemblance between Jehda and Patmos - it is a very cool association (I for one, enjoyed watching Rogue one very much :) ) Thank you very much again!
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:iconmiirex:
miirex Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2017  Hobbyist Photographer
Pięknie się prezentuje.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2017
Bardzo się cieszę, że się Panu podoba! Dziękuję, że znalazl Pan czas żeby napisać komentarz :) Dziękuję!
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:iconmiirex:
miirex Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2017  Hobbyist Photographer
Zawsze z przyjemnością. 
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:iconhashashin619:
Hashashin619 Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Amazing shot, the Byzantine architecture was amazing, such a beautiful culture!
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2017
I am very glad you like it - Byzantium is one of my earliest interests and I am still fascinated by it - it is a shame that so much of Byzantine heritage was destroyed - I sometimes wonder what would happen if Constantinople would never fall and Byzantium would develop into a modern state... Anyway, I digress, thank you very much for taking the time to comment - I appreciate it!  
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:iconhashashin619:
Hashashin619 Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Couldn't agree more, it has always been an interesting topic for alternate history, what if the Byzantine Empire survived. However its survival was very unlikely from the very beginn9ing of  the middle ages, considering the constant invasions from the East and West, Arabs, Bulgars, Seljuks, Crusaders etc., Constantinople was one of the biggest and economically most important cities on earth, every body wanted to take the control over the city and its trade routes.
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:iconnovembergirl2016:
Novembergirl2016 Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2017  Professional General Artist
I've always liked architecture. Your photos are very interesting. Thanks for sharing!
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2017
It should be me thanking you for taking the time to view this and comment - thank you very much! I am very glad this caught your attention :)
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:iconflibertyjibbeth:
Flibertyjibbeth Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2016   General Artist
This monastery is truly a fascinating place, thank you for sharing!
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2016
I am glad you like it, Orthodox monasteries can be absolutely fantastic sites to visit. Somewhat distinct from Latin monastic houses. thank you very much for taking the time to comment - I appreciate it!
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:iconpawelotti:
pawelotti Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wygląda niesamowicie. Gdybyś nie napisał, że to klasztor nigdy bym się tego nie domyślił :P
Taka masywna twierdza... Wygląda bezpiecznie nawet w bieżących czasach mimo iż nowoczesna broń zagraża wszystkiemu.
Jako osoba przeciętnie religijna nawet nie wiedziałem, że św. Jan wymyślił apokalipsę w jaskini xd
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2016
Mówiąc szczerze też nie wiedziałem, że objawienia miały miejsce w jaskini - moje znajomość Pisma Świętego jest mocno ograniczona chociaż uważam że to nie dobrze - niezależnie od poziomu religijności to są tak ważne teksty, że dobrze by było je znać a jednak jakoś nigdy nie zabrałem się za porządną lekturę - niestety gry komputerowe i RPG zabierają za dużo czasu :) Dzięki za komentarz - mi też Patmos bardziej kojarzy się z zamkiem niż z klasztorem - zwłaszcza że tam są takie elementy archiektury jak machikuły do polewania oblegających wrzącą smołą itp - naprawdę klimatyczne miejsce.... Jeszcze raz dzięki - zawsze miło mi dostać komentarz od ciebie :) !
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:iconpawelotti:
pawelotti Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
haha a mi zawsze miło jak piszesz, że Ci miło :D
osobiście PismaŚświętego nigdy nie czytałem, a kiedyś trzeba. Może parę fajnych cytatów się trafi.
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:iconartlovr59:
artlovr59 Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2016   Photographer
Fantastic!! Wonderful to hear the monastery was never looted!
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2016
I am glad you like it! Given all the invasions, wars and piracy - the preservation of the abbey's treasury seems remarkable indeed, I heard that Venetians looted Patmos and seized some of the monastery's treasures but not the main bulk of. The abbey also preservers letters of protection granted to the monastery by the Ottoman sultans - one fortunate abbey! Thank you for the comment!
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:iconartlovr59:
artlovr59 Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2016   Photographer
That is very interesting. I'm originally from Hungary, so I know about things being lost! (Mongols, Ottomans, Hapsburgs et al!)
And you're welcome!
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:iconakitku:
akitku Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
 A great shot that really emphasizes the structure! It is more like a castle than a monastery...which is good because it holds treasures worth protecting! 
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2016
Hi Akitku! Thank you very much for the comment! I am very glad you found time to visit my gallery - I know you are very busy recently... I am glad you like this shot, I was hoping it will catch your attention as I know you like Byzantine history and culture! It is a shame that so little of it is preserved, especially in terms of secular traditions and institutions - monasteries and churches are great but, I am sure you know, there was so much more to Byzantium! Thank you again and save journeys!
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:iconaroco:
Aroco Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
It is certainly magnificent and I found it interesting to read that is has never been looted!!! Thank you for sharing :)
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2016
It should be me thanking you Nykki, I am always glad to see a comment from you! The treasury of the monastery in Patmos was very interesting, in Poland, most of the monasteries were looted sometime between the 17th to 20th C. so I especially appreciated Patmos - thank you again! 
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:iconaroco:
Aroco Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
It is I whom should be thanking you BricksandStones as your photos and your articulation of the information that goes with your images makes a novice, such as myself, interested in an era long gone.  I was particularly fascinated with this image of yours, not only for the building's visual excellence, but also for its historical significance, not least because it has not been looted!  Well done to you and my thanks to you as well :)
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:iconirondoors:
Irondoors Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
I never actually gave much thought to the place where St John received his visions, in fact, I didn't even remember if it this place was mentioned in the Bible at all. Is the village also medieval, or was it built later? 
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2016
According to leaflets I read, the village is also medieval - there are some windmills there that look similar to the medieval windmills on Rhodes but I am not sure if they are medieval as well. I could not find any medieval houses but there are some nice, 17th and 18th C. villas there which are worth taking a look.... As for Patmos in general, until recently, I was also not aware of this place, my wife told me about it....  Supposedly Patmos it is one of the wealthiest islands in Greece and this is quite evident - there are countless expensive art galleries and even a Sushi bar there! Anyway, thank you very much for the comment! I appreciate it, honestly!
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:iconjezmiller:
JezMiller Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
Fascinating! I'd never heard of this place before.

Which monastic Order held the monastery? Presumably they were Greek Orthodox, whose monastic traditions I'm afraid that I know nothing about. I'm okay with Benedictines or Cistercians or Cluniacs, but I'm out of my depth here.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
Until recently, I have not been aware of this monastery as well - my wife told me about it! As for the monastic order, to be honest,, I am not sure. Orthodox Christianity does not have monastic orders similar to the ones in Catholicism, there are some traditions like Basilian monks but they do not have a set hierarchy similar to that of the Cistercian or Franciscan Order (they are a bit like Benedictines). All major monasteries in Byzantium had their own rule and tradition, each large monastery could have a 'daughter' monastery which had to follow the same rules but they did not form a monastic order. So, to return to your question, the monastery did not belong to any particular order - it was a coenobitic monastery - that is, it focused on communal life rather than on individual prayer of monks living in hermitages, but it did not belong to any particular order. I am no expert on Byzantine monasticism but I think this is how it worked - every major monastery had its own rule and in this sense, it was not part of any wider 'order'... Just as the monastery of St Catherine on Sinai was not part of any 'order' though it had daughter monasteries on Cyprus and Crete... Anyway, thank you very much for taking the time to comment on this - I am always happy to see that you visited my gallery - cheers!
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:iconlupa-rutila:
Lupa-Rutila Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
Interesting, monastery like a big city, or even greek-like city-state. Great perspective, it shows like the castle dominates the city buildings being on top of the hill (reminds me of... Klodzko?! Ok, stupid idea ;) ), more modern, but also old to us, climatic and traditional.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
I like your comparison between Patmos and a Greek city state - good idea. The comparison with Klodzko is also not bad - the medieval fortifications of both sites are fascinating even if the walls of Klodzko are a bit later. Have you been in Klodzko? I visited it only as a child so I do not remember much - still, I would love to visit it again one day! Thank you for the comment! Cheers!
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:iconlupa-rutila:
Lupa-Rutila Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2016
Yes, we've been to Kłodzko and Góry Stołowe for quite an intensive trip. We probably visited every possible hole, mine, shelter, underground city of Kłodzko (underground tourist path consisting of basements, merchant warehouses etc.), and almost everything connected with Riese project (only not the castles, Czocha and Książ). Great memories :)
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:icondavidmnr:
DavidMnr Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
I will must open  a folder special for your submission
always  very interesting  to read and see , i think your are one rare deviant who do it!
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
This is one of the best comments I ever received -  thank you very much! This is a great motivation to be more active here, I am really glad you enjoy the images and descriptions - they are not as beautiful as the ones in your gallery but I do hope that people would at least find them interesting.... Thank you again!
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:icondavidmnr:
DavidMnr Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
it's greatly deserved and it's always a great pleasure
good sunday!
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:iconahappierlife:
ahappierlife Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
It means a lot to have this photo - until I read your description, I didn't know the place even existed. Now to have such a good photo of it! Thanks so much.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
As always, it should be me thanking you for taking the time to view this and comment! It is always a pleasure to see a comment from you! Getting to Patmos was a bit expensive for my budget, though to be honest, now that my salary is in Polish zloty's rather than in Sterling everything seems expensive. Still, it was my first time visiting Greek islands and it was worth it! One of the things I noticed is that, despite the financial crisis, the Greeks really care for homeless animals - all of the stray dogs and cats we met were healthy and good looking - clearly, they were looked after by a local vet. This was very different than the situation in Turkey were many homeless dogs looked very poor and in need of medical care.... Either way, thank you very much for the comment - I appreciate it!
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:iconahappierlife:
ahappierlife Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2016
I'm glad to know that about the Greeks. As always, you are informative and add warmth to all you say.
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:iconcharcoalfeather:
charcoalfeather Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Those white buildings really make the whole complex stand out even more! Thanks for including the description again. The cave of the apocalypse, eh? It's such an interesting fact that St. John was said to have received his Revelation visions there. Out of all the books of the Bible, Revelation has always stricken me as the most interesting, not only because of its imagery and its view of the "end of the world," but maybe because it contains so many secrets. 

Did you go to the cave itself?
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
Yes, the cave is open to the public - there is a small church inside and, when I visited it, people were singing religious psalms inside. Thank you very much for commenting! I always smile when I see that you visited my gallery again, I really appreciate it! As for the apocalypse, I agree the Revelation is one of the most interesting parts of the Holy Scripture though,  to be honest, I never read the original text and, after visiting Patmos, I realized I really should read it one day.... I agree that white buildings make the abbey look more monumental. To be honest, I do not really like how most of the villages in the Aegean are covered with whitewash - this is a 19th C. tradition which does not reflect how these villages and churches looked in the medieval period.... Anyway, thank you very much - once again, you made my evening :)
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:iconcharcoalfeather:
charcoalfeather Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome, Tomek! Thanks for sharing your travels and your knowledge. it's great to see history come "alive," so to speak. You're very lucky to have seen so much of these relics and structures. 

Yes, now it seems like the white-washed villages are a "symbol" you always see representing the villages when you see those travel brochures or even just a video...it'd be great to see them without the white paint. 
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:icontheskull31:
TheSkull31 Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016  Professional General Artist
Beautiful job with the shot. I can tell that you really took your time with this! :D
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
Thank you very much for the comment! I am very glad this caught your attention - in fairness, the most time consuming bit was writing the longish description but I did edit the image a little bit. I hope it does not look fake though.... Thank you very much once again!
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:icontheskull31:
TheSkull31 Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2016  Professional General Artist
You're welcome. By the way, I got a new Nikon camera today. Would you like to know why?
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