Literally meaning ‘underground’ in Greek, the Hypogeum hal-saflieni, 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 Hypogeum was discovered in 1902 by accident when workers were cutting cisterns for a new housing development.

The 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 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 Hypogeum. The most popular statuette from the 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 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 hypogeum contains some of the most known features of the site, such as

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.

Hypogeum tickets

The 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. Hypogeum tickets must be bought in advance online, www.heritagemalta.org . For those that didn’t succeed to purchase hypogeum tickets before hand, Heritage Malta offers 20 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 Hypogeum can be booked as a malta private tour and we could help with hypogeum tickets.

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