Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni is a unique underground temple located in the town of Paola. It was built approximately in 4000 BC and is situated 11 meters under the under surface. The temple is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage and some historians and archaeologists insist on Hypogeum being recognized as the eighth Wonder of the World.
Hypogeum is a natural cave that was extended manually. It occupies the territory about 500 square metres and comprises 34 rooms situated on 3 levels of depth and connected with numerous corridors, tunnels and stairs. The temple was encountered by chance in the year 1902 while building bell-shaped wells for collecting water. The builders tried to hide the cave, and use it as a building garbage dump, but the Jesuit priest Father Manuel Magri took interest in this place and started the excavation. After his death in 1907 the Maltese archaeologist Sir Themistocles Zammit continued the investigation. In 1980 Hypogeum was included to UNESCO World Heritage list.
During the excavations antique artifacts were found: vases, amulets, jewelry, stones with carvings, stone and clay statuettes of seated, standing and even lying people. The most impressive of these findings is the figure of a woman sleeping in a bed known as “A sleeping lady”. As the majority of the findings it is being exhibited in the National archaeological museum of Malta. Also, the underground temple contained several credence tables, statues that were used as idols and other religious items.
The cave of Hypogeum has a room with unique acoustics: the so-called Chamber of Oracle. There is a small oval niche and if one says something in a low male voice the sound will be heard in numerous underground rooms. But if the speaker has a high female voice, even people standing in the same room will hardly hear anything. The walls of this chamber are decorated with spirals – pattern symbolizing eternity. Historians assume that in remote times thousands years ago The Chamber of Oracle was the centre of religious life due to its acoustics that created the sensation of mystery among the antique people. The room is connected with deep tunnels that were used as a burial: the remains of 7000 people were found here. The expertise revealed that antique habitants of Malta had been buried their dead people here during hundreds of years.
Hypogeum is such an enormous underground system, that nowadays not all of its tunnels are studied: it is impossible to get to some of them because of their ruined state. Nowadays the Hypogeum`s microclimate is strictly regulated for the sake of preserving of a unique monument of the antique Maltese culture.