In its ongoing mission to make the sites and museums entrusted to it more accessible to the general public, Heritage Malta will once again be organizing an Open Day. The site which will open its doors to the public for free is St. Paul’s Catacombs in Rabat. Three guided tours in Maltese will take place at 10.30am, 11.30am and 14.00pm.
St. Paul’s Catacombs are a typical complex of interconnected, underground Roman cemeteries that were in use up to the 4th century AD. They are located on the outskirts of the old Roman capital Melite (today’s Mdina), since Roman law prohibited burials within the city. St Paul’s Catacombs represent the earliest and largest archaeological evidence of Christianity in Malta. The site was cleared and investigated in 1894 by Dr A.A. Caruana, the pioneer of Christian archaeology in Malta.
The Catacombs of St Paul are situated in the zone of Ħal Bajjada in Rabat, in an area which is at times also called Tad-Dlam. The site consists of two large areas called St Paul?s and Saints Paul/Agatha, and are littered with more than 30 hypogea, of which the main complex, situated within the St Paul’s cluster, comprises a complex system of interconnected passages and tombs covering an area of well over 2000 sqr metres.
The cluster gets its name from the myth that it was once connected with St Paul’s Grotto, which was once also partly re-cut into a Palaeochristian hypogeum. The origin of the main catacomb most probably started from a cluster of small tombs of the Punico-Roman type and hypogea which were eventually enlarged and joined haphazardly to create the complex system of passages and tombs used in the late Roman period. Although much smaller when compared to the catacombs of Rome and other large Roman centres, the catacombs of St Paul are a good example of the Maltese underground architecture, which is the result of an indigenous development which was barely influenced by overseas traditions.
Those visiting St. Paul’s Catacombs for free on the 29th of June will also have the opportunity of purchasing a number of Heritage Malta publications at a reduced price and benefit from a 10% discount on new memberships and 50% discount on entry tickets to the Domus Romana and the National Museum of Natural History (Mdina). Opening hours from 09.00hrs till 17.00hrs. Last entry at 16.30hrs.
For more information regarding the Open Day at St. Paul’s Catacombs and other similar events organized by Heritage Malta one can follow the agency’s Facebook page or visit the official website www.heritagemalta.org.