Hal-Saflieni Hypogeum

Paola, Malta

The Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni is a subterranean structure dating to the Saflieni phase (3300-3000 BC) in Maltese prehistory. It is often simply referred to as the Hypogeum, literally meaning 'underground' in Greek. The Hypogeum is thought to have been originally a sanctuary, but it became a necropolis in prehistoric times, and in fact, the remains of more than 7,000 individuals have been found. It is the only known prehistoric underground temple in the world. The Hypogeum is UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is a complex made up of interconnecting rock-cut chambers set on three distinct levels. Earliest remains at the site date back to about 4000BC, and the complex was used over a span of many centuries, up to c. 2500 BC.

The uppermost level consists of a large hollow with burial chambers on its sides. This hollow was probably originally exposed to the sky and excavations in the early 1990s indicate that there might also have been a monumental structure marking the entrance. A doorway leads to the Middle Level, which contains some of the best known features of the Hypogeum such as the intricate red ochre wall paintings and the beautifully carved features in imitation of architectural elements common in contemporaneous Megalithic Temples. The deepest of the three levels is known as the Lower Level, which is accessed down seven steps in the chamber popularly known as the ‘Holy of Holies’.

The Hypogeum was first opened to visitors in 1908 and since then it has been visited by many thousands of people. Unfortunately, this has had a toll on the delicate microclimate of the site which has affected the preservation of the site and the unique red ochre paintings. For this reason, after a conservation project which saw the site closed for 10 years between 1990 and 2000, a new system was established in which only 10 visitors an hour are allowed in for a maximum of 8 hours a day, complemented by an environmental control system which keeps temperature and humidity at required levels.

References:

Comments

Your name



Address

Triq Ic Cimiterju, Paola, Malta
See all sites in Paola

Details

Founded: 4000-2500 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Malta

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Gary Umstead (2 years ago)
Totally enjoyed the movie and the tour of the tombs from centuries ago. This is a must see if your visiting Malta. Be advise you must purchase tickets at least 3 weeks in advance to get on one of the tours of the crypts.
Raúl Fabregat (2 years ago)
I managed to get some tickets for this site (10 days before) and I am glad I did. They only allowed 80 people a day (10 pax per time slot) so it is recommended to book well in advance. It was totally worth it. You get to see an underground necropolis built 5000 years ago and well-preserved. Do not hesitate to book it.
Katarína Greškovičová (3 years ago)
Couldnot get in. You need to book quite some time in advance. But i saw the movie about the spot and it was very good and with a lot of information. Nice introduction and good solution if you do not have a lot of time to wander about.
M R (3 years ago)
Extraordinary site. Book well in advance as the tour only takes 10 people a few times a day and it is a massive difference to the sound and video session. The staff is very kind and helpful. We loved it.
David Camilleri (3 years ago)
One of those top 5 things to do in Malta - amazing underground neolithic structure of unclear use (that adds to the fascination of the place) which can only be visited by 10 people per hour - place tends to get booked out - so once you know you are going to Malta go ahead and book some tickets. We booked from Australia about 2 months ahead - the day we were there in early December, they had no tickets until mid January. Visit is a mix of an audiovisual presentation about place and than a visit into the structure itself with audioguides explaining the site and what you are looking at.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Roman Walls of Lugo

Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.

Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.

The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.

Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.

Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.

The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.