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.
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