The Hot Gates would provide the backdrop for the epic battle in Frank Miller's famous comic book mini-series, 300. Nestled within the high cliffs along the banks of Greece, the Thermopylae (translated from ancient Greek to the "Hot Gates") is a narrow pass through the coastal mountains. In antiquity it was the only major land route between Lokris and Thessaly. The name derives from the existance of several natural hot water springs by the pass. The Spercheus river dominates the area.
The Persian army of Xerxes I landed nearby and needed to use the hot gates as passage to the rest of Greece, or incur a considerable detour. It was at this strategic pass that King Leonidas of Sparda and his 300 soldiers would perform the epic task of holding off the considerable forces of the Persian army for three days before being outflanked and killed.
The Real Thermopylae
The story of 300 was based on real events where the Spartan army did hold off the Persian forces at the Hot Gates for three days. Because of its location, Thermopylae was important to the Greeks for purposes of travel and trade, but was also historically significant in several battles for reasons similar to those described above. Because of natural forces, Thermopylae is no longer located right on the water as it once was.
The setting of the Hot Gates in the movie 300 (film adaptation retelling the events of Frank Miller's comic series) was not actually filmed at the Hot Gates, but instead was an artificially constructed set on a sound-stage, using blue-screens as a back-drop. Most of the movie was produced in this manner.