Sat nav meltdown leads to historic Greece 

Leaving behind the harbour,with its cone and goings we headed off further down the Greek coast, our sat nav was being sublime, taking us on and off the motorway, at one point we left the motorway and headed back the way we came, but on a lovely twisting mountain pass !!

So in the end we abondanded her, found the road we thought we needed on the map and followed that. Eventually the sat nav caught up we us and started to be useful once again….

After driving down the Greek National Road for an hour, we saw an old and wonky sign for thermal springs at Thermopylae.

Ignoring the sat nav, who was clearly have a bad day and taking a break from our planned route, we decided to follow the sign and after a short drive down a winding road, which had clearly not been used for some time as it had trees and grass growing from it….

we were greeted by crumbling and abandoned buildings with no signs of life apart from what could only be described as a refugee camp (in Michele world)


We parked the van and looked for any signs of a thermal spring. We followed the foul stench around the buildings and were greeted by a pool of clear, hot water naturally heated to 45 degrees by the earth.

Having found a gem of place, we had a quick search  in our dateabase of sites and came up trumps, it’s turn out that a mear 500meters down the road is one of history’s most important battle sites, plus a huge monument with parking spaces!

In 2006 the Frank Miller-Zack Snyder epic 300 was a box office smash. 

Here a YouTube clip in case you’ve forgotten……

 The Battle of Thermopylae,fought between a massive Persian invading army and a Tiny Greek force led by King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans in a narrow pass in the summer 480 BC.

Sorry quick history lesson…….

The  filmmakers, were almost entirely correct, The Battle of Thermopylae was indeed a key part of the Graeco-Persian Wars.

these  were a genuine struggle for civilisation, a decisive culture clash on a world-historical scale.

 But there’s another element to the conflict that shouldn’t be allowed to pass in silence. The ancient Greeks were a very competitive, indeed antagonistic lot. 


No sooner had the Spartans and Athenians and their respective allies defeated the Persians,  fighting armmin arm by , than they embarked on a bitter war against each other. 

Sparta and Athens were very different Greek cities, as different almost as they could possibly have been while still remaining distinctively ‘Greek’. 


Sparta was the model military state, under constant military discipline, and against the  disorderly free-for-all of democratic politics. 

Athens on the other hand was the western world’s first democracy run by ordinary Athenian people.


Actually it was the combination of their very different qualities on the battlefield — Spartan soldierly discipline and training, Athenian brio and dash — that were crucial to the patriotic Greeks’ eventual major victories by sea  and on land.

But neither would give way to the other in the commemoration stakes. The Spartans enlisted the famous Greek praise-singer Simonides in their cause, to celebrate the decisive land victory at Plataea in 479 BC, but Herodotus, the Western world’s first proper historian, gave the lion’s share of the credit to Athens for its contribution to the naval battle of Salamis in 480.


So this unassuming easy to miss place, with next to no touirst information, is probably as important to Greek history as Delphi it Olympia…..


Paul.

2 comments

  1. We came back in May from Greece and went to Thermopolae. Stood where you are standing and we walked up to the burial mounds of the spartans on the hillside . Loved it

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