Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum
A World Heritage Site since 1980, the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is a unique prehistoric monument which bears unique testimony to a civilization which has disappeared. The site was discovered during the building of new houses in Paola at the turn of the century, and was reported to the authorities in 1902. Containing evidence from around 4100 B.C. to 2500 B.C., the Hypogeum consists of a series of rock-cut chambers set on three different levels. The Upper Level, which is also the earliest to be created, may have had a monumental structure marking its entrance but its extent is unknown. The Middle Level houses the most elaborate chambers where, albeit with only the use of stone and bone tools, work of extremely high quality and skill is evident. The chambers are similar to those of above-ground megalithic structures and the walls and ceilings of some of them are painted with designs in red ochre, giving the visitor a different, though familiar, view of the internal spaces of a prehistoric structure. The preservation of these paintings has presented one of the biggest challenges to the site’s managers over the years. This remains, to this day, the site’s main conservation concern.