Socrates jail (Philopappou)

The cutting of groundwork and even of whole rooms into the rocky parts of the Hills west of the Acropolis (the Areopagus, the Hills of the Nymphs and of the Mouses, the Pnyx) is especially characteristic of the area, which serves as an open-air exhibition of the town-planning and architecture of the ancients, carved into rock. The impressive structure cut into the rocky slopes of the Hill of the Muses belong probably to a monumental two or three-story dwelling, as we conclude from the allignments of beam-holes on the surface of the rock. The wooden beams supported the front part of the structure, which was made of stone masonry and wood. To the exterior floor belong passageways that connect with water-channels cut into the facde of the building, and a carved stairway at the south provided communication with the higher levels of the slope.

The preserved back part of the structure is a complex of three rooms, carefully cut into bedrock, with doorways at the east and a cistern st the back. The use of the rooms is unknown. Its cave-like structure, however, and its proximity to the Athenian Agora must have led to the popular tradition that the building was the “Prison of Socrates” or an “ancient bath”, as guidebooks and history books inform us. In the Second World War the structure was used to hide the antiquities of the Acropolis and the National Archaeological Museum and was sealed up with big cement wall.

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