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- "Thermopylai... They say you can't walk this battlefield without getting blood on your toes."
In classical antiquity, the passageway has served as the main route between Thessaly and Lokris, and thus has served as the place of numerous battles, the most notable of which is the Battle of Thermopylae, in which the Spartans led by the King Leonidas I fought against the forces of Xerxes I of Persia.
Later in 431 BCE, the misthios Kassandra visited the passageway at the request of the historian Herodotos. They met at the Lion of Leonidas, where Herodotos requested Kassandra to draw out her spear. As Herodotos touched the tip of the spear, they received a glimpse of Leonidas' final moments in the Battle of Thermopylae. This seemingly confirmed Herodotos' suspicions about Kassandra and her spear's connection to Leonidas.
- The name comes from the local hot springs. Θερμοπῠ́λαι (Thermopúlai) is Greek for 'hot gates'.