Thermopylae is a location in Greece where a narrow coastal passage existed in antiquity. It derives its name from its hot sulphur springs."Hot gates" is also "the place of hot springs and cavernous entrances to Hades".Thermopylae is primarily known for the battle that took place there between the Greek forces including the 300 Spartans and the Persian forces, spawning the famous epitaph beginning with "Go tell the Spartans". It is also the locality of the city Anthela (Ἀνθήλη), where the first Amphictyony is mentioned.
Thermopylae is located in eastern Central Greece on the only land route large enough to bear any significant traffic between Lokris and Thessaly. Passage from north to south along the east coast of the Balkan peninsula requires use of the pass. Further west the way is blocked by mountains and the Gulf of Corinth. For this reason the area has been the site of several battles.The ancient name of the region was Malis after the Malians (Ancient Greek: Μαλιεῖς), a Greek tribe that resided at the mouth of the river Spercheios in Greece.
The Malian Gulf is named after them. In the western valley of the Spercheios, their land was adjacent to the Aenianes. Their main town was Trachis. In the town of Anthela, the Malians had an important temple of Demeter, an early centre of the Anthelan Amphictiony.The area is dominated by the coastal floodplain of the Spercheios River, surrounded by steeply sloping forested limestone mountains.
The continuous deposition of sediment from the river and travertine deposits from the hot springs has substantially altered the landscape during the past few thousand years. The land surface on which the famous Battle of Thermopylae was fought in 480 BC is now buried under 20 metres (66 ft) of soil. The shoreline has retreated greatly over the centuries because of the sedimentary deposition. The level of the Malian Gulf was significantly higher during prehistoric times and the Spercheios was significantly shorter. The shoreline retreated by up to 2 kilometers between 2500 BC and 480 BC but still left several extremely narrow passages between the sea and the mountains.
The narrowest point on the plain, where the Battle of Thermopylae was probably fought, would have been less than 100 metres (330 ft) wide. Between 480 BC and the 21st century, the shoreline retreated by as much as 9 km (5.6 mi) in places, eliminating the narrowest points of the pass and considerably increasing the size of the plain around the outlet of the Spercheios.A main highway now splits the pass, with a modern-day monument to King Leonidas I of Sparta on the east side of the highway.
It is directly across the road from the hill where Simonides of Ceos's epitaph is engraved in stone at the top. Thermopylae is part of the infamous "horseshoe of Maliakos" also known as the "horseshoe of death": it is the narrowest part of the highway connecting the north and the south of Greece. It has many turns and has been the site of many vehicular accidents.The hot springs from which the pass derives its name still exist close to the foot of the hill.
Thermopylae means "hot gates" in Greek and the name is related with its hot sulphur springs.This is also the place of cavernous entrances to Hades. The first mentioned Amphictyony centered on the cult of Demeter at the city Anthela in the locality of Thermopylae.The delegates to the Amphictiony were entitled Pylagorai (gate-assemblers), perhaps a reference to the local gates of Hades, since Demeter was a chthonic goddess in many of her older local cults.In a Greek myth is mentioned that Heracles had jumped into the river in an attempt to wash off the Hydra poison infused in the cloak that he could not take off. The river was said to have become hot and stayed that way ever since.