The Hill of The Muses (Lofos Filopapou)

The Hill of The Muses (Lofos Filopapou) (29)

They say that from the top of this hill you can look into the eyes of the Acropolis. And it is no joke. Located to the southwest of the Sacred Rock, this place offers a breathtaking view over the city of Athens, all the way to the horizon, and makes an ideal vantage point to observe the profile of the Parthenon and other monuments from afar. 

Although its official name is Philopappos Hill, everyone knows it by its former name, the Hill of the Muses. Why? Musaeus, the mythical seer and priest and disciple of Orpheus, said to be the creator of monastic poetry, is supposedly buried there. 

However, the hill is named after another tomb located there. At the top of the 147-metre hill is the imposing mausoleum of Philopappos, built after his death between 114 and 116 AD. Philopappos was loved by the city of Athens, the city where he had been banished after falling from grace as the Roman-Syrian consul. Philopappos soon became a generous benefactor of the Greek capital, and that led to him being buried in a privileged position, something that had not even been granted even to Pericles.

Much of the monument has been preserved. Built in Pentelic marble, its most notable feature, besides its 12-metre height, are the high-relief friezes. They depict the arrival of Philopappos aboard a chariot to be appointed Roman consul. 

However, make no mistake, the reason most people walk to the top of the Hill of the Muses is not because of their devotion to Philopappos. From here, the view of the city will leave you breathless, and we promise that it will not be because of the steep climb. The whole city, the Acropolis and even the Port of Piraeus are visible from the top. 

From above, it is easier to appreciate the important defensive role of this hill in the history of Athens and to understand the reason for the remains you have passed on your ascent to the top. 

First, the Diateichisma wall, dating from the year 337 BC, and secondly, the fort built by Demetrius Poliorcetes in 294 BC to oversee the road leading to Piraeus. From this fortress, the Venetian Francesco Morosini fatally bombed the Acropolis in 1687, causing very serious damage to the temples erected there, especially in the Parthenon. 

As you walk up the hill, you can also visit the Prison of Socrates, but do not expect anything spectacular. This is a series of caves and primitive houses where it is said Socrates was detained, accused of corrupting the youth of Athens with his teachings. Although the place retains the name, there is really no historical evidence that the philosopher was imprisoned here. On the contrary, he is known to have been sentenced to death by drinking hemlock at the state prison in the Greek Agora.

So, you see, there are numerous reasons to visit this hill. Walking around Philopappos Hill will also bring you surprises, such as the paths built by Dimitris Pikionis in 1975, made with pieces of ceramic and marble, where wild flowers grow in spring. Also, if you happen to there at Easter, you will have the opportunity to see hundreds of coloured kites brought by the families who come here, as dictated by Athenian tradition. All this, along with the stunning beauty of the path and the views at the top, means that the Hill of the Muses will leave you speechless.

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