Monument of Leonidas
The Monument was built in 1905 by sculptor Vasos Falereas. It is a sculptural composition composed of the brass-shaped whole-body of Leonidas with its spear and shield in the center and the lower-in-height marble personalized forms of Mount Taygetos and the river Evrotas. The construction of the statue of King Leonidas was based on an ancient warrior who was excavated by the British School of Archeology in 1920. It is a creation made with the financial help of the Greeks of America.
Leonidas was the King of Sparta from the Ayaddin dynasty. He is well-known for the strategic intelligence he has pointed out in the Strait of Thermopylae against the numerous Persians. In particular, the Persians, after the defeat they suffered in Marathon, attempted a second campaign against the Greeks headed by Xerxes. The Persians were heading for Athens with an army of about 2.5 million men. The battle that took place in Thermopylae aimed to halt the course of the Persians. So Leonidas recruited 300 elite warriors among with 700 Thespians and 80 Mycenaeans. Before the battle began, Xerxes asked the Greeks to hand over the weapons. King Leonidas, however, denied it with the distinctive phrase “Μολών λαβέ”, ie, “Come on and get it”. Their resistance was strong and lasted several days. The Persians fell on the battlefield as they were numerous and could not fight in the straits. Then came Ephialtes, a Greek traitor. The Ephialtes directed the Persians from a path that encircled the Spartans and led them to a death.
This great battle is well-known for the high strategic planning of the battle and for the military education that the Spartans received. The Spartan sacrifice in the Battle of Thermopylae is a universal symbol of obedience and self-denial in favor of the country and has become a model of bravery and heroism. At the place where the battle took place, the ancients had set up a monument on which the following was engraved:
Ὦ ξεῖν’, ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε
κείμεθα, τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.
“Stranger, tell the Lacedaemonians that we are here, faithful to their laws”