A private slice of paradise

A private slice of paradise

There are places where you go to find yourself, such as Spirit Rock in California and Dharamsala in India. Patmos, the Holy Island of Revelations, where the exiled John the Apostle wove his strange and terrible visions into Christianity’s darkest, most gripping text, is a place you go to lose yourself, writes Amanda Dardanis at The Times.

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The moment you set foot on the island, a profound peace cloaks you. Time slows down. Amid an intense terrain that’s simultaneously austere and abundant, wild and groomed, you feel stripped back to an elemental existence. There’s a spiritual energy that many who come to the island claim to tap in to — even the religiously ambiguous.

For about 40 days each year, the other face of Patmos appears. During late July and August, a clubby collective of A-listers, fashion royalty and the chic elite fly in by helicopter to stay in Greece’s most expensive villas in the citadel city of Hora. Presiding over it all, and the island’s 3,000 residents, is the epic 11th-century Monastery of St John the Theologian.

“All of Milano’s fashion world will be here next month,” says Smaralda Vazeou, the owner of Citria, a high-end boutique. “You won’t be able to see to the other side of the square.”

Not even Patmos’s most famous hotspot, Astivi, opens until July. I’d been so excited to visit this Patmian legend so many rave about, to see for myself the impossibly romantic roof terrace where David Bowie used to sit nursing a gin and tonic in his sandals and shorts.

“Every year, for nearly a decade, Bowie came to Patmos for the first ten days of July,” George Fotinopoulos, the owner of Astivi, tells me from Athens. “He was the guest of the fourth Aga Khan, who has a villa in Hora. Last summer we had Jennifer Connelly [the American actress] in all the time with her husband, Paul Bettany.”

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