Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum
Much older than Valetta, but not as old as the other of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Malta, the Megalithic Temples, the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum near Paola is an underground chamber that dates back to 2500 BC. Thanks to extensive excavation a wealth of archaeological ethnography has been uncovered and collected including human skeletons, pottery, figurines, carved animals, and personal ornaments such as beads and amulets.
Hewn from the rock, the Hypogeum has an area of around 500 m² and features passages, chambers, and halls. The chambers demonstrate various standards of workmanship and are diverse in size and shape. There are three levels to the complex with each level dating to a different era. The oldest level dates to 2500-3150 BC with the deepest level being 10.6 metres underground. The middle level dates from 3300-3000 BC and contains a number of chambers that have a smooth finish that resembles constructed masonry. The upper level dates from 3600-3300 BC and is a large hollow with burial chambers on each site leading off a central passage.
Visitor numbers to the Hypogeum are strictly limited because the microclimate of the site needs to be strictly regulated for conservation purposes. The guided tour begins in a introductory exhibition and audio-visual presentation in multiple languages to the people who built the temples and the Hypogeum’s relationship to the other temple sites on Malta. It is advisable to book tickets in advance as tours are booked quickly. Tickets can be booked online at the Heritage Malta website or in person at the Hypogeum’s own vsitor cente and the National Museum of Archaeology in Valetta. The visitor schedule is eight daily tours starting on the hour between nine am and four pm on Monday through Saturday