In the year 480 B.C. in this sacred place called Thermopyles was carried out the most astonishing and unequal battle between few Greeks and a million of Persians. This battle is a landmark in the World's History.
Three hundred Spartans and seven hundred Thespians under the orders of Leonidas, king of Sparta, decided to fight against the Persians and win or die defending the freedom of their country. According to the historian Herodotus, the Persian army consisted of about one million seven hundred thousand soldiers who were under the command of King Xerxes.
The Persians asked the defenders to give up their arms, but Leonidas replied to them with the heroic phrase come and get them. This phrase has been, and will always be, a bright example for generations to come, of one's doing his duty for his country.
On Kolonos an epitaph was placed to honor the dead soldiers. The epitaph has the following message engraved on: <<You stranger, go to Lakedaimonians and let them know that we lie here, faithful to their laws>>.
During the 1st century A.D., the philosopher Apollonios Tyanefs visited Thermopyles. Someone asked him which was the highest mountain in the world. He answered: <<Kolonos is the highest mountain in the world, because on this mountain the law keeping and the noble self-sacrifice have put up a monument, which has its base on the earth and reaches the stars>>.
The caption for picture #1:
The Persian Camp is between the rivers Melas and Asopos. In ancient times the difficultly accessible pass had three gates (the ancient and the modern coast line are marked on the map).The Phokian Wall, behind which the small Greek camp was settled, protected the second gate. One should notice on the map the path of Anopaia through which the Greek troops were surrounded.
The caption for picture #2:
The Persians invade and reach the second gate. However they are crushed by the Greeks after a tough and deadly battle, which lasted two days.
On the third day of the battle a Greek traitor called Ephialtes led the special forces of Hydarnes through the path of Anopaia to the rear of the Greek troops. After a desperate fight the Spartan leader died. The rest of the Greeks, who had escaped death defending themselves, retreated to the hill of Kolonos (right). There, all of them fell bravely.
The caption for picture #3:
Persian arrowheads found in hundreds on Kolonos hill (Athens, National Archaeological Museum).