Journey 5000 years back in time in Malta’s Hypogeum

I’ve already written about the historical town of Mdina and the tempting swimming at the Blue Lagoon , but Malta’s history stretches far back, as evidenced by the Neolithic temples scattered around the island.

One of the best examples requires some advance planning, but it is well worth the effort. In the town of Paola, just outside the capital of Valletta, is the Hypogeum. The Hypogeum is an extensive underground shrine spread over three levels and built between 3600 and 2500 BC.

Photo courtesy www.maltavista.net

The temple was discovered in 1899, when routine work in the homes above the site revealed one of the temple’s underground chambers. Excavations have revealed that over 7000 bodies were buried here. Artifacts and jewelry were also discovered.

Photo courtesy www.bearuk.net

The famous “sleeping lady” statue was unearthed in the tombs and the tiny sculpture is now on display for visitors.

Photo courtesy commons.wikimedia.org

To protect the delicate environment, including original ceiling paintings, only 70 visitors are admitted each day. I highly recommend booking online well in advance in the summer months – tickets go fast.

Note that children under 6 are not allowed to visit. I was disappointed by this, since we had to take the tour in shifts in order to stay with our younger child. However, after visiting,  I understand that the slippery steps and small, dark enclosures would be difficult to manage with young children in tow.  The rest of the family will be certain to enjoy this fascinating Malta attraction.

The Hypogeum is open daily, 9am – 5pm. Be sure to book tickets in advance.

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