Σπήλαια του λόφου Φιλοπάππου

Caves of Filopappou Hill - Socrates Prison


Useful Information

Location: Filopappou Hill, Athens.
(37.9693, 23.7208)
Open: no restrictions.
[2021]
Fee: free.
[2021]
Classification:
Light: bring torch
Dimension:
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address: Caves of Filopappou Hill, Filopappou Hill, Athens, 117 41, Tel: +30-, Fax: +30-.
Η Φυλακή του Σωκράτους, 43, Ροβέρτου Γκάλι 39, Αθήνα 117 41.
The Prison of Socrates, 43, Rovertou Galli 39, Athina 117 41.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

OCT-1940 at the outbreak of the Greco-Italian War the artworks were transferred to the quarry.
17-APR-1941 transfer completed and caverns sealed.
27-APR-1941 German troops enter Athens.
1944 after the liberation of Athens the artworks are returned to their former locations.

Description

Σπήλαια του λόφου Φιλοπάππου (Caves of Filopappou Hill) are located in the middle of the capital Athens. The hill offers a nice view to the Acropolis. While the city is built on limestone and the surrounding hills contain many caves, this is actually artificial. The caverns are the result of limestone mining for various purposes, mostly for buildings. The caverns are called Socrates Prison and there is the legend that this was the place where Socrates was imprisoned. This actually pretty unlikely, historians think he was imprisoned in a building located in the southwest corner of the Athenian Agora. Still the signs read Socrates Prison.

The old quarries were reused during World War II. The Greek Ministry of Culture considered the aggressive and expansionist actions of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini as a direct threat to Greece. As a result they moved some of the most valuable items of the National Archaeological Museum and the Acropolis to these caverns. Over a six-month period, starting with the outbreak of the Greco-Italian War, artifacts were discreetly moved in the middle of the night. After the artifacts were properly stored, the cavern entrances were sealed with concrete. Only ten days later German troops entered Athens, and the following day German officers entered the National Archaeological Museum to determine what items would be seized and transferred to Berlin. But the artworks were gone, and although they interrogated the museum staff, they were not able to find them. After the liberation of Athens in 1944 the artifacts were safely recovered and moved back.

Today the caves are open again, but the entrances are gated with iron bar gates, which allows a good view. They are now occupied by a colony of land tortoises. The park is open 24 hours, but the area is not well lit at night, so we recommend visiting during daylight hours. Please do not disturb the tortoises. Nearby, 100 m to the west on the other side of the hill, is Σπηλιά του Κουφού (Deaf Man's Cave), another similar quarry.