Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum
The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is an underground prehistoric burial site. Discovered in 1902 during construction works, the site was first excavated by Fr Emmanuel Magri between 1903 and 1906. Fr Magri died in Tunisia and his excavation notes have not been found. Excavations were taken over by Sir Themistocles Zammit, who continued works until 1911.
The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is a complex made up of interconnecting rock-cut chambers set on three distinct levels. The complex was used over a span of many centuries, with the earliest remains dating back to about 4000 BC and the more recent remains found dating to the Early Bronze Age (ca 1500BC).
The uppermost Level consists of a large hollow with burial chambers on its sides. This area may have been originally exposed to the sky. Excavations in the early 1990s indicate that there probably was a monumental structure marking the entrance.
A doorway leads to the Middle Level which contains some of the best known features of the hypogeum. These include intricate red ochre wall paintings and beautifully carved features that recall architectural elements common in contemporaneous megalithic temples.
The deepest of the three levels, known as the Lower Level, is accessed down seven steps from the chamber which is popularly known as the ‘Holy of Holies’.
The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum was first opened to the public in 1908 and since then, it has been visited by thousands of people. Unfortunately, this has had a toll on its delicate microclimate, affecting the preservation of the site and the unique red ochre paintings.
For this reason, after a conservation project which saw the site closed for ten years between 1990 and 2000, a new environmental management system was established. Following years of monitoring and study, the system was replaced and updated in 2017. The Hypogeum is open for 10 visitors per hour for a maximum of 8 hours a day. This precaution is complemented by an environmental control system which keeps temperature and humidity at required levels, thus ensuring that the site is preserved for future generations.
The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is the only prehistoric burial site which is accessible to the general public and it is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, as a site that “bears a unique testimony to a civilization which has disappeared” (Criterion iii). Due to the high demand, visitors are recommended to buy tickets early as the guided tours are often fully booked weeks in advance.
Other Heritage Malta museums and sites in the vicinity: Tarxien Temples
Monday to Sunday: 09:00 – 17:00 (by booking only)
CLICK HERE for tickets.
Eight Guided Tours (with audio guides) take place each day, on the hour. Each tour lasts for 50 minutes.
Tickets for the Guided Tours that commence at noon and 16.00hrs are available ONLY as ‘last minute tickets’ and priced at €40.00. These are available the day before from Fort St Elmo (Valletta) and the Gozo Museum of Archaeology (Citadel, Gozo).
Paola PLA 1116
Tel: +356 21 805 019
Ticket prices for the Hypogeum Guided Visit (with audio guides):
– Adults (18 – 59 years): €35.00
– Youths* (12 – 17 years), Senior Citizens* (60 years +), Students*, Concessions*: €20.00
– Children (6 – 11 years): €15.00
– Infants 5 years & under: No admission
Ticket prices for the Audiovisual Show (no access to the Hypogeum):
– Adults (18 – 59 years): €5.00
– Youths* (12 – 17 years), Senior Citizens* (60 years & over), Students*, Concessions* and Children ( 11 years & under ): €3.50
*Valid ID/Student cards must be presented
The Audiovisual Show includes a 20-minute audiovisual about the site. It does not include access to the Hypogeum.
Tour times: 9:30, 10:30, 13:30, 14:30, 15:30
Duration: 20 minutes
Early booking is recommended.
Buy your tickets early as the Guided Tours are often fully booked weeks in advance.
Tickets purchased are non-refundable or exchangeable.
Photography and filming are not permitted.
The Hypogeum is an enclosed space. If you are susceptible to claustrophobia you might experience some discomfort.
Humidity levels are very high and therefore, some areas are very slippery. For your safety, please wear closed, comfortable shoes.
The audio visual show and a small display area are wheelchair accessible. However, the archaeological site is not accessible to wheelchairs.
If you are not able to use the audio guide provided, you may request a written version of the tour (available only in English) by contacting us, via email,at least one week before your visit firstname.lastname@example.org