Bank of Greece issues commemorative coins to mark 2,500th anniversary of historic battles
The Bank of Greece (BoG) has just issued a series of commemorative coins to mark the 2,500th anniversary of the battle of Thermopylae and the naval battle of Salamis.
The two silver coins which depict scenes of the 480 BC battles and Greek military leaders are part of BoG's annual monetary program run jointly with the Greek Finance Ministry. A total of 6,000 coins will be released.
In the battle of Thermopylae the outnumbered alliance of Greek city-states led by King Leonidas of Sparta eventually lost to the Persian forces, but until today it is a point of reference as an example of heroic resistance to defend sovereignty and freedom.
In the naval battle of Salamis, the alliance of the Greeks led by Athenian politician and general Themistocles resulted in a decisive victory for the outnumbered Greeks, marking a turning point in the course of the Greco-Persian wars.
While presenting the coins on Tuesday evening, BoG Governor Yannis Stournaras and Finance Minister Christos Staikouras agreed that the coins carry Greece's message for struggle for freedom and cooperation through culture around common values of humanity.
"Many scholars and historians believe that in the Thermopylae and Salamis, European civilisation began... A Europe of freedom, democracy, equality and independence starts from there... These battles belong to the world, they belong to humanity," the minister added.
Historians believe that the two ancient battles had inspired Greeks to fight for freedom and independence from the Ottoman rule 200 years ago.
Marianna Vardinoyannis, president of the honorary organising committee for the "Thermopylae-Salamis 2020" anniversary events, believed that the coins will reach the hands of Greeks and foreigners, honouring "the two crucial moments in the history of humanity."
Greece has launched a series of events to honour the 2,500th anniversary of the two battles across the country with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos underlining in one of these events that the "firm boundary between West and East" which was established in 480 BC still exists today.
This boundary was not intended to divide, but build bridges of communication, promoting friendship and peace through the dialogue of civilisations, he stressed.
The coins are issued in the context of year-long events that will culminate next year with the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the modern state of Greece.