Thursday, 12 January 2012

Hypogeum - Older than the Pyramids

inside the Hypogeum
The Hypogeum in Paola is one place that is definitely worth a visit, whether you've had enough of lying on the beach or you are trying to get in touch with your spiritual side.  The Hypogeum is a series of underground chambers connected by low ceilinged passages, which was carved out of the rock over 5,000 years ago, by a pre-historic civilisation about whom little is known.  And you don't have to be a history enthusiast to get something from a visit to the Hypogeum.  There is something very atmospheric about walking through the narrow passageways accompanied by drip-drip sounds which bounce off the rock walls.  The fact that groups are restricted in numbers means that you don't get that over-touristed feel and you can actually take in what you're looking at.  No photos allowed inside either, so you have to actually experience the place without the prism of your camera or phone getting in the way.  There's no point in me trying to describe it in too much detail though, it's one of those places you need to experience for yourself.

Here it is...
A couple of things to note:   As I mentioned, groups are restricted in size to a maximum of six groups of ten people per day, so if you're going in peak season it's probably a good idea to book ahead about a month before: tickets are €20 for adults and you can book here.  Once you go inside, there's a video presentation to give you some idea of the history and how it was discovered, and then a guided tour around the chambers.  The whole thing lasts for maybe an hour and a half and like I said, well worth a trip.  You can get bus info below, and once you arrive in Paola just follow the signs to Cemetery Street (Triq Ic Cimiterju) - it's only about a 5 minute walk from the bus stop - or else ask someone, everyone in town knows where the Hypogeum is.  A trip here is something you don't get to experience every day, and I always think that opportunities to do something a little bit out of the ordinary should always be taken.  Unless that 'something' is  a bungee jump, because that's just silly.

          (This is one of the Top 10 Things to Do in Malta)

* Note: the photos above are reproductions of photos from the Archaeology Museum, as photography inside the Hypogeum is not permitted.


  1. why photos are not permitted in the hypogeum? do they announced a reason for that?

    1. That is a very good question, which inspired me to do a little research. While I couldn't find anything about the Hypogeum specifically, there is a general impression that flash photography can damage works of art. Although scientific research seems to suggest this is not true, many museums and galleries (and quite possibly the Hypogeum) do not take any chances. Other possible reasons include retaining the atmosphere of the underground chambers without flashes going off all the time; avoiding time wasting while people take photos as the tour goes along at a decent pace; or maybe even encouraging more photography sales from the gift shop. I would be willing to believe some or any of those to be the reason in this case, but if anyone knows better please share the knowledge.


Please feel free to comment below, all feedback welcome - it's great to hear other people's opinions and experiences.