There are plenty of reasons to go on holiday to Greece, one of which is getting the chance to visit Thermopylae. Also referred to as “Hot Gates,” this particular destination in Greece is well known both in Greek history and mythology, as it was the location of the world-famous Battle of Thermopylae. It is also said to be the cavernous entrance to the kingdom of Hades.
Just in case you need any more convincing, here are 6 reasons why traveling to Thermopylae is well worth your while.
A Visit to the Centre
The Centre of Historical Information of Thermopylae, otherwise known as the Thermopylae Museum, is dedicated to the momentous battle that took place here in 480 BC. The Centre opened in 2010 and has since been giving guests an interactive narrative and discourse of Greek history. The building is shaped like an ancient spearhead turned to the north, as if facing the Persian invaders, and offers a digital 3D movie representing the Battle of Thermopylae.
An Homage to the King
A central figure in the Battle of Thermopylae is Sparta’s King Leonidas, and a monument was aptly built in his honor. A visit to Thermopylae will give you a chance to check out the Leonidas Monument, and in the process, pay tribute to the king’s unyielding love for his nation and his unwavering courage amid adversity.
A Memorable Hike
The terrain here in Thermopylae is perfect for hiking, as they afford hikers a trail that is suitable for all levels of fitness. What makes this hike truly memorable is that you will get to pass through one of the most famous battlegrounds in history.
Nothing beats learning about history quite like walking in the same steps taken by those who actually took part in it. The Battle of Thermopylae is one of history’s most famous battles, and navigating the Battlefield of Thermopylae, is certainly one way for you to relive it.
For those who don’t know, the combined forces of the Greek city-states, led by the Spartans of King Leonidas, valiantly tried to fight off the much larger advancing Persian army of Xerxes I. Fittingly, the Battle of Thermopylae has been immortalized as not only a symbol of courage against all odds but also as the perfect example of how gallantly a patriotic army can defend their native soil.
One reason that the site of the Battle of Thermopylae is so well known across the globe is how it has been referenced in pop culture. From novels like Valerio Massimo Manfredi’s The Spartan and graphic novels like Frank Miller’s 300 to the movie 300, which, as the title suggests, is based on Miller’s 1998 work, the battle has acquired a large fan base. In fact, there are very few mediums that have not portrayed this historic conflict. Combined with other tales from Ancient Greece (like the Iliad), developers have found new ways to introduce Greek history to new fans. Inspired by history and films based on Ancient Greece, online slot provider Slingo features games that include Kronos Unleashed, Zeus God of Thunder (both based on Greek gods worshipped at the time of Thermopylae), and Fortunes of Sparta, which pays homage to King Leonidas. It is through multimedia like this that the story of King Leonidas is now more widely known to audiences than the tale of Achilles. The cultural impact of both the historic and fictional accounts of the battle is why people continue to visit the battlefield every year.
A Swim in the Spring
It’s not every day that you are able to swim in a spring that is of historical and mythical significance. You can do just that in the Spring of Thermopylae where Heracles, son of Zeus, allegedly bathed to regain his strength. Given recent evidence, this particular myth may actually have some truth. In a story that covers the untapped potential of Greece’s 700 hot springs, the Hindustan Times got in touch with some of the regulars who claim to have experienced the springs’ curative properties. “It detoxifies and oxygenates the body, regulates pressure, dilates the blood vessels, relaxes the muscles, clears the lungs, strengthens the bones and relaxes the nervous system,” explains Evangelos Kyriazis of his native springs in and around Thermopylae.
A Feast to Remember
There are only a few restaurants around Thermopylae, but those few will give you a feast you won’t soon forget. Cafe & Restaurant Thermopyles is nearest to the battlefield, and while it does not offer fine dining, it does serve food good enough to fill a warrior’s belly. The restaurants Odos Oneiron and Sourta Ferta, both situated in the outskirts of Thermopylae, are worth visiting, too.
Sure, Thermopylae may not be the traditional travel destination when visiting Greece, but it is nonetheless worth visiting, especially if you love history. If you’re looking for more travel options, we at The Tandem Ramble can offer you many other interesting destinations across Europe, such as Iceland which also has a strong mythical tradition.