Central Greece

One of the greatest military feats of antiquity, still legendary 2500 years on, took place at Thermopylae, signposted off the road to Athens 17km southeast of Lamia. In this narrow pass, in 480 BC, Leonidas and 300 brave Spartans sacrificed their lives to halt Xerxes’ vast Persian army long enough to secure an ultimate Greek victory. A large statue of Leonidas marks the battle site, while a modern museum alongside shows a short 3D movie but holds few other exhibits.

Sea levels have dropped considerably since Leonidas’ time; Thermopylae now stands at the edge of a broad coastal plain. However, the thermal springs that gave the site its name – ‘Hot Gates’ – are still here, down a short lane on the left roughly 200m north of the museum. A rushing sulphur hot spring fills a small natural pool, where you can relax in water that reaches up to 40°C.

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