Battlefield of Thermopylae
Battlefield of Thermopylae
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4.0
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103
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73
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15
Terrible
7

Sofia
14 contributions
May 2023
I wanted to like this area, but I feel it's badly presented (and that includes the hot springs, the statue of Leonidas, and the museum/coffee shop) to such an extent that I am surprised that the Greek authorities haven't done something about it.

I have an imagination, so as far as the actual battle is concerned, we worked out who was doing what where and when, all through prior reading, and pieced it all together at the site, and that was fine, it's always good to put these things into context.

The information on site is lacking in the extreme, and whilst (gods forbid) no-one needs Disneyland levels of explanation and false presentation, a little effort on the part of the authorities here would benefit everyone. Take Culloden in Scotland for example, the presentation of that battlefield has been reworked both sensitively and well. They could do something similar here, sort of.

Underwhelming and very poorly presented. I am glad we'd done our homework, to understand what we were seeing. The whole site of Thermopyles/Thermopylae
is woeful.
Written July 2, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

JPCHickey
Penclawdd, UK227 contributions
Aug 2021 • Couples
This is the site of one of the most important battles in Greek history reduced to a lay-by on a minor road. No signs, no care, utter indifference. There is a small visitor centre with a 10 minute video. Worth a visit if passing but I wouldn't make any effort to attend.
Written August 16, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

JPCHickey
Penclawdd, UK227 contributions
Jul 2019
Given that this is one of the most important sites in Ancient Greece it is incredibly disappointing. First of all if you arrive by car there are almost no signs telling you where it is and we almost drove past it. There is a visitor centre with a short 10 minute video and a large stone wall with a huge statue of King Leonidas. The actual location of the pass where the Spartans defeated the Persians has long disappeared. The sea is now 9 miles away and there's nothing to see. Total visit time is 20 minutes.
Written June 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

RobertB667D
Ottawa, Canada47 contributions
Jun 2022 • Family
I enjoyed being able to see where the famous battle took place. The one plaque was informative to understand how what now is a broad area was then a narrow path. The museum was closed, so it no doubt would have enhanced the visit. Without that there was little to see and it wad hard to understand where the nain points were (other than the obvious hill).
Written June 3, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

redeco
Warren, MA9,468 contributions
Sep 2011 • Friends
Most history buffs know the story of the Battle of Thermopylae where the confederation of Greek city states faced Xerxes and his great Persian army in a three day battle in late August or early September 480 BC.

Fearing complete annihilation, the bulk of the Greek army of 7000 was dismissed and Leonidas and 300 of his Spartan soldiers along with 700 Thespians agreed to hold the pass though greatly outnumbered. The small group of soldiers held the pass for seven days. The Persian army doubled back and attacked from the rear and nearly all were killed. This site revealed thousands of Persian arrowheads during 1939 excavations as well as a mass grave that many believe contains the Spartan 300.

Today, the site of the burial on Kolonos Hill lies just across the highway from the monument installed by King Paul in 1955. The dusty road up the hill is quiet and peaceful and belies the turmoil of the battle so long ago. A simple bronze tablet marks the grave. The hot sulphur springs still lie a couple of hundred yards from the site and are the reason the place is called Thermopylae.

The monument itself is a long and geometric white marble shelf mounted with white marble statues of reclining nudes on each side and an impressive bronze statue of Leonidas above. The headless winged figure to the left represents the anonymous soldiers who fell here.

I enjoyed my visit here, though I could tell that others in my group who don't have great interest in history didn't much care. There are no rest rooms, no gift shop, nothing to do if you prefer a little more action. The action here happened in 480 BC. If historical sites are for you, don't miss Thermopylae. It commemorates one of the most famous last stands in history.
Written October 19, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

songster1928
Jersey City, NJ64 contributions
Jan 2018 • Family
From a European perspective, Thermopylae is sometimes presented as a most important battle. While it was little more than a delaying action – 4000 Greeks holding off 300,000 Persians for three days before the Persians swept the field, the ability of the Greeks to inflict ten times as many casualties on the Persian army as they took, and the willingness of the band of 300 Spartans at the core of the Greek force to sacrifice their lives, served to rally Greek resistance against the Persian invasion, an invasion that foundered at the sea battle at Salamis and ended at the Battle of Platea a year later.

The Thermopylae Battlefield could be, perhaps should be, so much more than it is. It all seems a bit random as one comes down the Highway. One sign for the “Battlefield”, and then the large monument a short distance away.

To the visitor who is familiar with the battle itself, the site makes no sense. The Greeks achieved their three-day stalemate because they took a position in a narrow pass, which prevented the Persian army from outflanking and enveloping them. (On the third day, the Persians were able, with the help of a Greek guide, to send forces around the pass and then come up on the Greek rear.) But the battlefield as it exists today is NOT in a pass. There are high hills on one side, the other side is broad plain.

A map, by the “new” memorial provides an explanation. In the past 2500 years, the coastline has shifted about a half mile, which accounts for the open plain. It all makes sense if you recognize that the area you are standing in was much less broad during the battle. Many of the Persian soldiers drowned when they were caught between Greek forces they could not dislodge and Persian forces pushing them forward or not allowing retreat.

There are two monuments. The newer one (first photo) is on the side of the road nearer the water. You cannot miss it from the highway and it is easy to pull off and park there. And as mentoned above, I found the little map display there – in Greek and English – helped me understand where I was. But the monument itself – a wall perhaps 80’ long, with modern statues of dying soldiers and a couple of large reliefs of the battle, did nothing for me.

I think the main problem I had with it is the statue at its center (second photo) – its most eye catching element. A Greek soldier stands ready for battle, his 8’ spear raised to strike and his shield at the ready. But aside from the helmet, the soldier is nude. This is odd. Greek men competed in sports competition in the nude, but in battle, they wore armor and they wore sandals designed to give them traction as they stood their ground. Also, the shield is odd. It has a Medusa head on it. If one wants to honor the 300 Spartans who were the core force, it should have a Lambda on Lacedaemon as its device. And the man holds the shield at a right angle to his body, therefore giving no protection to himself or the man next to him on the line. An important function of a Greek shield was that it protected two soldiers. This shield position allows you to admire the soldier’s muscular torso, but again, both the shield position and the absence of clothes are worng.

As others have noted, you are likely to face aggressive beggars by this monument. Just say no.

Take the time to cross the highway – good thing traffic was light because there are no traffic lights -- and climb Kolonos Hill to the spot where the last Spartans fell. The path is well marked and the elevation is only 45’. At the top, you will find the much smaller old monument with its famous inscription, “Oh stranger, go tell the Spartans, that here we lie, faithful to our laws.” (3rd photo) The slab with the quote dates from the 1950’s, the quote probably from the time of the battle.

Standing here, with less traffic noise, no beggars and the view back up the battle plain, I found myself very moved, imagining the Greek and Persian lines on the plain in front of me. For me, this was the best part of the visit. (4th photo)

We also took the “Battlefield” turnoff. You only drive about 50’ for find parking. In the Golden Age of Greece, Thermopylae was known for its hot springs and you park by one of them. It has been dammed and channeled. There’s a small hotel there and on a cool January day, some bathers were in hotel robes, but others were getting out of their cars to take a dip. The springs are hot and the sulphur smell is thick.

We walked up the fields back toward Kolonos Hill for about 100 yards. It was wide open, nothing was marked.

I wish the Greek government had the money to put some markers on the field; indicating where events might have occurred. I wish they could afford to have a staff person at the main monument to discourage the beggars. I wish some enterprising retired person with a love of history would organize a tour, or maybe two or three a day, to tell the story of the battle and Leonidas as a leader. Maybe that happens in the summer. A person with moderate acting skills could bring that site completely to life. It’s an important place and it deserves more.

In a way, the nude warrior status is a metaphor for the state Thermopylae is in today. He has been sent into battle completely underdressed and unprepared as if no one could afford to do it right.

I am glad we went there because it’s an important place, but the state of the site does not match that importance.
Written January 30, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

CheeseburgerParadise
Sydney806 contributions
Were passing by so thought we'd see the Leonides monument dedicated to the 300 Spartans, the monument dedicated to the 700 Thespians who fought alongside the Spartans and Kolonos Hill where the Spartans are said to be buried. The three monuments are all in the same place right beside the OLD highway. This means that if you're actually on the new E75 (also known as highway 1) you will need to take the Thermopylae exit to get on the old road. Once off the highway just follow the signs to Thermopylae.

With regardds to the monuments themselves, you'll probably first come along a small brown sign next to a petrol station that points the way to the battlefield. This actually leads to the Thermopylae hot sulpher springs where you'll find other travellers, like you, perplexed at not being at the monument but happy at the opportunity to take a quick dip in the spring! Since we visited in summer, it was oppressively hot but entrance into the springs was unregulated (i.e. free!).

In any case, if you head back out towards the old road and take a right you'll see the monuments in a matter of seconds. (The actual battle took place in the area bwtween the sulpher springs and the site of the monuments.)

Kolonos hill, where the 300 Spartans are said to be buried in a mass grave is directly across the road from the Leonides and Thespian monuments.

In front of the Leonides and Thespian monuments there's a drinking fountain under a fig tree which, when we were there, was full of delicious figs!

Hope this helps anyone passing the area and interested in the site,

CP
Written August 25, 2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

James V
Stamford, CT9 contributions
Sep 2013 • Couples
For years I have wanted tovisit this most famous battlefield. Although I knew that the water had receded a great distance, I was still very surprised at how plain the area looks today. almost 3 thousand years ago the ground level was approx 45 meters lower, and the edge of the water was right there. Today, the land is flat, and as one travels on the highway there is suddenly a sign that you are at the battlefield. If you look to the right a statue of Leonidas catches your attention. This is within meters of the road. You will learn that this is where the king was slain. Across the road and back a few meters is a small rise where the remainder of the 300 were buried.
There is a small museum that has several interesting video presentations. Staff there is friendly and eager to present their history.
Written October 28, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Luiz Rocha
Rio de Janeiro, RJ164 contributions
Oct 2013 • Couples
Thermopylae (hot gates) is 15 km from the city of Lamia, on a deviation from the highway from Athens to Thessalonic. At the site there is a statue of Leonidas, and a beheaded naked torso with a broken wing representing the 700 thienspians who fell dead. Across the road there is the site where Leonidas and the 300 spartans fell dead.

However the best kept secret (do not ask me why it is so secret) is the Center of historical information of Thermopylae. Actually you can see the center not far from the statue of Leonidas. Do not miss the opportunity to visit it. No visit to Themopylae will be complete without visiting it. Information is available in greek, english and german. For 3 euros you will watch a 15 minute 3-d movie about the battle and a room with interactive displays with information about the greek-persian wars.

If you are visiting by car pay attention on how to get there. If going from Athens to Thessalonik, it is easy to get there and to get back to the highway. But if you are driving from Thessalinik to Athens, after visiting the site , get back to approach the highway. As usual greeks are very cumbersome with their signs. Even using a GPS sometimes you get lost because Greece is not updating some of the new roads and intersections constructed. If you are visiting with a tour agency demand to visit the information center.

Just as a warm up here is na introduction to the persian wars:

The wars of the Persian Empire against the greek city-states ( 499 to 479 BC) are very famous in human history.

In 500 BC the Ionian Greeks, who had settled in the western coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey), rose up against Persia's King Darius I, with support of the Athenians. This rebellion lasted from 499, to 494 BC.

Darius was not satisfied and sent Persian forces on land and sea toward Greece in 491 BC, but the fleet was mauled in a storm off Mount Athos, the monastic península, and the expedition was called off.

The next year, 490 BC, the Persians went once again to punish Athens. They captured the island of Euboea and used it as a staging area before landing in Attica on the shore of Marathon. Although the Persian forces were much larger, they were surprised and routed with great loss.

When the news of Marathon reaches Darius, he got more determined than ever to conquer Greece. The renewed campaign was several years in the making but Darius died before he was able to exact his revenge. The burden passed to his son Xerxes.

Xerxes concluded 'I therefore on his behalf, and for the benefit of all my subjects, will not rest until I have taken Athens and burnt it to the ground, in revenge for the injury which the Athenians without provocation once did to me and my father. If we crush the Athenians and their neighbors in the Peloponnese, we shall so extend the empire of Persia that its boundaries will be God's own sky.'

While Xerxes prepared to march, his subjects accomplished two major engineering feats. They built a bridge to the troops at the Hellespont, (modern Dardanelles, Turkey), a long narrow strait dividing the Balkans (Europe), from Asia Minor. The bridge was supported by 674 biremes and triremes (ships named for the number of rows of oars each carried), across which the causeway was laid. Meanwhile, three years were spent digging a canal across Mount Athos peninsula, bypassing the treacherous waters where Darius' fleet had come to grief years before.

In 481BC, Xerxes gathered together an army of several hundred thousand infantry and a navy of six hundred ships. Fortunately for all of Greece, the Athenian politician, Themistocles, had foreseen trouble years ahead and convinced the Athenians to begin a navy-building project so by 481 BC, Athens had a navy of over two hundred ships.

As Xerxes swept irresistibly forward during the summer of 480 BC, opposition melted away. Athens and Sparta, however, remained defianct. In August, Spartan King Leonidas led 6,000 men to hold the pass at Thermopylae (hot gates), through which the Persian army had to advance in order to reach Athens. At the same time, the Greek fleet advanced to Artemisium to keep the Persian naval forces busy. Xerxes demanded Leonidas to hand over his arms. He heplied Molon Love (come and get them). The next two days the greeks resisted heroically. On the third day they were surrounded by the persians and Leonidas alongside 300 spartans, 700 thespians and 400 thebans are killed by massive persian arrows.

The Spartan sacrifice at Thermopylae was not in vain. While they held the pass, Themistocles led the Greek navy to a victory at Artemisum.

After clearing Thermopylae, the Persians made haste for Athens, which was now almost abandoned. Themistocles had convinced most of his countrymen that their best chance for survival lay in moving to Salamis. All of northern Greece was defenseless against the Persian onslaught, which culminated with the burning of Athens and the Acropolis. The decision was made to give battle to the Persians at once. The famous naval Battle of Salamis ensued, during which the Greek fleet won a dramatic and decisive victory over the much larger Persian navy. The Persian fleet was destroyed, and Xerxes returned to Persia, leaving Mardonius in charge of the conquered region. It was not until the following year, however, that the Spartans realized that the Persians had no intention of meeting them at their fortified isthmus, and emerged from their Peloponnesian stronghold. Then, at the hard-fought Battle of Plataea, they drove the all the Persians from the Greek mainland. This was the beginning of the Delian league, the foundation of the Athenian Empire, and the Golden age of Greece.

Over the following thirty years, Athens continued to fight battles with Persia for control of the dozens of Greek colonies in the Aegean Sea. It was not until 448 BCthat a treaty finally ended hostilities between Athens and Persia, and by that time Athens was the dominant power in the Aegean Sea.
Written October 27, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

PeterW71
Kingston, Canada143 contributions
Sep 2014 • Couples
Thermopylae is a 2-1/2 hour drive out of Athens. If you find yourself out this way, I recommend you:

a. visit the excellent Thermopylae Museum. Their 3-D movie depiction of the battle and interactive displays bring the history of the battle to life;

b. see the Memorial to the Spartans;

c. see the Memorial to the Thespians; and

d. walk up the 200 m to Kolonos Hill (across the road from the Spartan Memorial) where the Spartans made their "Last Stand".

Having made it out this far, and as an added bonus, please don't miss an opportunity to take a dip or just soak your feet in the hot springs that gave their name to this location and are still here. A publicly accessible spring is located at Loutra Thermopilon (GR 38.79345278, 22.52843889), approx 1.0 km from the monuments at Thermopylae - see photos.
Written September 24, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Battlefield of Thermopylae