The Prison of Socrates

It's rumoured that Socrates' final imprisonment, and the later setting of Plato's Crito, was in these caves on Philopappos Hill.

TravelCurious Tip

Make sure to bring your camera – a spectacular view of the Acropolis materialises as you continue up the hill.

On the slopes of the Philopappos Hill, immediately to the south-west of the Acropolis, lie a mysterious set of caves. Little about them is known for certain, but it is believed that the philosopher Socrates may once have been imprisoned within them.

In Trouble with the Law

Socrates was one of the greatest philosophers ever to have lived, the tutor of Plato and a leading intellectual light of the Western world. A principled man by nature, he was not afraid to speak his mind, and this eventually landed him in trouble with the Athenian authorities. After publicly supporting the rival city-state Sparta and questioning the established conceptions of justice and morality, Socrates was famously imprisoned for “corrupting the youth”. His friends begged him to attempt an escape, but ultimately he chose to poison himself rather than surrender to indignity.

The Real Prison?

It is not known exactly where the authorities incarcerated their philosopher prisoner, but this place on the Philopappos Hill has as good a claim as any. In Plato’s description of Socrates’ final days, he says that the holding cell was within easy walking distance of the Acropolis, and this place certainly fits the bill. Visiting it today, there isn’t a huge amount to see – it’s just three large holes scraped out of the rock. However, there is something arresting about treading the same earth as these ancient intellectual powerhouses, and the place certainly merits a visit as part of a leisurely walk up to the top of Philopappos Hill.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Athens
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Built on the Acropolis' southwest slope in memory of the beloved wife of magnate Atticus, this 2nd century theatre is still used today as a venue for live performances.
Areopagus Hill
Also known as the Rock of Ares, this outcrop is famed as the location of Paul's sermon to the Athenians.
Dionysiou Areopagitou Street
Walk along the pedestrian street of Dionysiou Areopagitou and have magnificent views of the Acropolis.
Temple of Athena Nike
Next to the Propylaea lies the Acropolis' earliest Ionic temple, built for the goddess of victory and restored after its destruction in 1686.
Populated with small, cubic houses in Cycladic style, this beautiful tiny neighbourhood is part of the historical Plaka area.
Philopappos Hill
Known as the Hill of the Muses, Philopappos provides a stunning view of the Acropolis and Parthenon.

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