Located in Paola, close to the Tarxien Temples, the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is an intriguing yet fascinating place to visit. Initially used as a sanctuary, the site then became a necropolis in prehistoric times. The Hypogeum consists of a network of underground chambers, tunnels, halls, passages, burial tombs along with a temple complex on 3 levels. This is definitely one of the most popular attractions in Malta, so if you have the chance to go, that’s an opportunity not to be missed!
The earliest level being dated from 3,600 – 3,300 BC, the Hypogeum is nowadays the oldest example of this kind of underground architecture from the Bronze Age in the world. The site’s chambers are really captivating: they were all built out of the surrounding rock and none of them have a similar size or shape. Their carved configuration particularly proves the fine workmanship used at the time.
The most popular room is called the ‘Main Chamber’. It’s supposed to be the place where the ancient priests contacted ancestors of the dead. Artefacts such as a Maltese ‘Sleeping Lady‘ figurine, potteries and many amulets were found in this room. Also, human remains were buried at the Hypogeum, with more than 7,000 individuals found!
Planning a visit to the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, requires the visit to be booked beforehand, with appointments being often taken months in advance. This happens especially during the peak season, where the site is really appreciated by many tourists. Moreover, as the monument was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, only 80 persons per day are allowed to visit the Hypogeum. These restrictions were set to protect and conserve the Maltese heritage site, since too much people in a row could seriously damage it.
Opening Times: Visits are organised daily by 8 tours of 10 people per day. The tours run at 9am, 10am and 11am in the morning and 1pm, 2pm and 3pm in the afternoon. Two extra tours are also organised at noon and 4pm. A complete and interactive timetable is available on Heritage Malta’s booking website. When picking a date, you will automatically be shown the last time slots available.
Tickets: Entrance tickets can be purchased for a fee of €30 for adults, €15 for seniors & students and €12 for children. Kindly note that children under 6 are not to be allowed in the Hypogeum for health as well as safety reasons. The entrance is also highly inadvisable for people suffering of claustrophobia. The ticket’s cost may seem expensive, however it is the price to pay to visit a unique and impressive remain of the past – totally worth it.
Public Transportation: There are plenty of buses you can take to get there such as Routes 83, 84, 91, 226, X3 and X7. The closest bus stop is ‘Nazzarenu‘ and the site is close to Paola’s massive Parish Church.