The, now ‘hidden’ Monument of Leonidas in Thermopylae

Article published on Dec. 30, 2010
Article published on Dec. 30, 2010
by Ilias Lappas To the attention of the mayor of city of Lamia, Greece foto: Vangelis Vlachos, If I remember correctly, there has been about 2 years since the day in which the new section of the national road Athens-Lamia in Malliakos area was released to service.
This new road section was specifically planned in order the compulsory and, among others, dangerous road passage through the village of Thermopylae to be deviated.

Thus, today anybody can travel bypassing Thermopylae and if someone wants to visit the village, can take the relevant exit of the new national road section. In addition, the new section doesn’t pass through the well known Monument of Leonidas, where the legendary Battle of Thermopylae took place in 480 BC, and the new road section stands now in the northern side of the Monument, some 2-3 Km away from it.

So far, so good but it sounds strange the fact that in both exits of the new road section (Athens-Lamia, Lamia-Athens respectively) you cannot locate any reference, even in the form of appropriate road signs, for informing the travelers that they are approaching the historical site of Thermopylae. Moreover, when driving in the new road section you cannot even locate the Monument because of the distance and the trees that surround the site.

I was deeply concerned on that issue and I started sharing my view on this with my friends. I was really surprised to realize that some of them discovered a new ‘conspiracy theory’, which states that the issue of the Monument of Leonidas is focused in decaying the historical memory of Greeks and things like that.

Personally, I don’t take this for granted and I simply believe that if the local society fails to do something on it, no road sign will be ever raised in the exits, just because the responsibility of the overall management of the new national road lies in a private company, thus, I bet that you can never find a private company in Greece that is going to allocate money, without being obliged to do so, for informing the travelers that they are approaching in an historical site.

Then, the responsibility lies within the village of Thermopylae and the city of Lamia, in which Thermopylae belongs and it is really embarrassing the fact that it seems that they don’t care and don’t try to face the problem.

It might be said that even nowadays, the importance of the Battle of Thermopylae in the shaping of the modern era is not completely understood, maybe it is not realized why that Battle is being thoroughly investigated by some of the leading historians, it is not realized how Thermopylae inspired a vast number of writers and artists and above all, what is the core meaning and lesson learned of the strategy of the united Greeks in Thermopylae.

Though, even in the case that the mentioned above facts are not completely understood, no excuse must exist for not being able to facilitate the visit of a kid who studies history, when he travels with his parents in the national road and beg them to go to Thermopylae, to proudly gaze the man who clamored ‘ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ’.