Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni © Richard Ellis
Just southwest of the Three Cities in the suburb of Paolo, the Hypogeum is a labyrinthine limestone complex of man-made chambers extending some 36 feet (11m) below the surface. Experts believe it was a burial site and temple for Neolithic humans who used antlers and stones to carve it out more than 5,000 years ago. It's comprised of several interconnecting chambers on three distinct levels. Used over a span of many centuries, the oldest remains at the site date back to about 4,000 BC. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Archaeologists have recovered numerous statues, amulets, figurines, and vases, many of which are on display in the Archaeological Museum in Valletta. The Hypogeum has been open to the public since 1908 and the droves of visitors have unfortunately had a negative impact on the ancient environment. Now, only eight tours a day take place with 10 people permitted on each tour. They are often booked up weeks in advance so tickets should be booked early to avoid disappointment. The tours are more or less an hour long and provide audio guides.