Hal Saflieni Hypogeum

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum

Literally meaning ‘underground’ in Greek, the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, a UNESCO world heritage site, is a subterranean structure dating back to the prehistoric period i.e. 4000b.c. – 2500b.c. The site is situated in Paola Malta, only 15 minutes drive from Valletta and 5 minutes drive from Vittoriosa. The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum was discovered in 1902 by accident when workers were cutting cisterns for a new housing development.

The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is a complex made up of interconnecting rock-cut chambers, hewn in the local Maltese stone, the globigerina limestone and is set on three different levels.

The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum was first excavated in 1902 by Fr. Magri were he died later on in Tunisia and unfortunately his original notes were never discovered. Sir Temi Zammit took over the excavations and various bones, statuettes, pottery and artifacts were unearthed. It is believed that close to 7000 bodies were buried inside the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum. The most popular statuette from the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is the Sleeping Lady. It is made of clay with traces of red ochre. The clothed figure has got fat limbs and hips and she’s resting on a couch. The sleeping Lady is exhibited at the National Museum of Archaeology.

The uppermost level consists of large hollow with burial chambers on each side which leads to the middle level through a narrow doorway. The middle level of the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum contains some of the most known features of the site, such as

  • The oracle chamber – this room has got an elaborately painted ceiling which depicts the symbol of spirals executed in red ochre.
  • Main chamber – carved out of the rock, this chamber is roughly circular with a number of trilithon which some of them leads to other chambers.
  • Holy of holies – the most popular chamber of all the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum. It represents the same architectural features of an above ground megalithic temple façade, carved out of the rock. The corbelled ceiling gives us a hint of how our megalithic temples were roofed.

The third level, which is closed for the public is 11 meters below the street level, just underneath the holy of holies chamber, with more chambers carved in the rock.

The only tools that these people had were the obsidian, a volcanic mineral imported from Pantelleria and Lipari Islands – flint, another imported mineral from Sicily and the local hard stone, the coralline limestone.

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum tickets

The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is open for the public every day on pre booking basis only. Only 80 people a day and 10 an hour can visit the site. Hal Saflieni Hypogeum tickets must be bought in advance online, www.heritagemalta.org . For those that didn’t succeed to purchase Hal Saflieni Hypogeum tickets before hand, Heritage Malta offers 20 Hal Saflieni Hypogeum tickets every day at €35 each for the 12 00hrs and 16 00hrs tours from the National Museum of Fine Arts Valletta,  a day in advance. Tickets start selling at 09 00hrs so it’s suggested to queue beforehand.

The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum can be booked as a malta private tour and we could help with hal Saflieni Hypogeum tickets.