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2019-09-26 00:17:12

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum: the largest and oldest underground temple on the planet

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum: the largest and oldest underground temple on the planet

Malta has the oldest temples in the world, whose age is 5 thousand or more: they are older than the pyramids in Giza. Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is an underground sanctuary built around 4000 BC. Thousands of tourists come here every year, visiting the halls and rooms of the temple, the architecture of which has been preserved quite well. Scientists are debating about the recognition of Hypogeus as the eighth wonder of the world - visit it while traveling in Malta: the tour will leave unforgettable impressions of the grandeur, mystery and uniqueness of this historical object.


The structure of the Hal Saflieni temple resembles the aboveground megaliths located on the island: the floor plan is very similar - there is an altar, a sanctuary, places for sacrifices. Scientists agree that the purpose of the temple was different, namely the burial of local residents. According to conservative estimates, there were up to 7 thousand burials in the early days, people constantly replenished the number of graves over the centuries and built new corridors.


  1. 1902 - when constructing the sewage system, local builders discovered the temple: they realized that they had found something special, but began to use the hypogee as a pit for construction waste.
  2. Jesuit father Emmanuel was the first to start excavations, discovering the remains of people and animals in egg and cone-shaped rooms.
  3. 1907 - the research was continued by a local archaeologist: his theory was that there was an oracle in the temple, attracting pilgrims from around the world.
  4. Maria Gimbutas drew attention to two points: the shape of the premises resembled a mother’s womb and a figurine of a sleeping naked woman was found. The researcher concluded that a woman’s cult flourished in Hal Saflieni.

The rooms

There are 34 rooms in the temple, but two details stand out especially:

  • Oracle Room: A low male voice is heard from here in all the rooms of the temple, but other sounds are not heard.
  • The steps leading to the lower room are partially missing at a height of a couple of meters above the floor.


From 1992 to 1996, the object was under reconstruction: at the entrance a cinema hall with a cafe was organized, metal steps were installed, lighting was carried out and partitions were mounted. You can visit about half of the rooms with a guide telling amazing stories about this place.

Interesting Facts

  • The property has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980.
  • 80 people and no more are allowed to visit the temple per day: book an excursion in advance.
  • Taking pictures in hypogee is prohibited even without a flash.
  • The area of all levels of the temple is 480 square meters.
  • Narrow underground tunnels remained unexplored on the territory of hypogee: there are legends that unknown creatures live in them, and daredevils who decided to squeeze forward never returned.
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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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