Less than three miles from the port is the historic epicenter of Patmos: the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian. The Byzantine, polygonal fortress is perched on a 325 foot hill. In the foreground are the whitewashed houses of Chora, the second largest yet oldest town on the island. Construction of the community (also called Hora) started in the early 12th century. The homes were built into the hill encircling the monastery. For added defense against attackers, the stacked rows had high walls, narrow passageways and locked gates. Most of what you see today is contemporary. The oldest surviving home dates from 1522.