Tombs, Temples and Tasty crepes

Trip Start Jun 12, 2007
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Malta  ,
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Everywhere that I'd read about the Hypogeum before we left England indicated that we needed to book it before we came as they only allow 10 people in per hour (a maximum of 80 per day) on a guided tour. Being out of season and due to the fact that I didn't really want to commit do a certain day I left it late to book - I did look a few months back and there seemed to be plenty of availability for this week, but when I looked back on the site the week before we came, there were only 3 tickets left for the whole week and they were all for 9am today. As I am an early riser anyway I didn't see it as a problem. During the time that I researched it, every book and internet site I read about the Hypogeum stressed how difficult it was to find and said to allow plenty of time, so with that in mind I got up with ample time. I'm not really sure what happened, but somewhere along the line, the time monster stepped in and took a great big chomp outta us, cause before we knew it we were still a couple of kilometres away from Paola - where it is based - and it was ten minutes until the tour started - there are also huge great notices all over the website stating that if you are late you will not get in and you will not get your money back. Maybe we were just plain lucky or maybe things have improved slightly since the things I had read, but once we arrived at Paola with 5 minutes to get there we took a left turn, a couple of right hand turns and there it was. We managed to pull up into what looked like the only remaining car parking spot down a side street, race back round the corner and literally join the back of the rest of the group about to disappear into the temple below. We caught it by a cats whisker - phew!!!

John says he's now pretty certain that there isn't one single traffic law left that we haven't violated - but hey, we haven't had a collision yet and that in itself is an art form!

The Hypogeum is one of Malta's most important historical sites. It is an underground temple and was discovered in 1902 when workers building new houses dug down to lay piping and accidentally broke through its roof. It is an underground network of passages, chambers and tombs and as usual with these sorts of places, there is a lot of mystery and guesses as to its true uses.

If you are interested, you can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypogeum_of_%C4%A6al-Saflieni

Photography is not allowed in there, so I have no photographs - I didn't take my camera in as I had read about it beforehand, but they take all bags, cameras etc. off of you on entry and lock them away for the duration of your visit, so they are serious about it.

I was really pleased that we booked, I enjoyed seeing it and the tour was very informative.

A block or so away from the Hypogeum stands the Tarxien Temples, so we make our way across to them. This site is above ground and consists of a series of four temples, linked by a courtyard. It is believed that the site was used heavily for rituals and in particular animal sacrifices due to the fact that lots of animal bones and flint blades were found in close proximity to the carved altar. It was definitely worth a look as we were in the area.

After the temples we decide to have a walk around Paola to see the town itself - the most impressive thing we come across (aside from the Hypogeum of course) is a kiosk selling sweet and savoury pancakes - we decide its not an option to walk past without sampling, so John orders a savoury one with peppers, sweetcorn, cabbage and mushrooms and I go for the sweet option of nutella, nuts, crushed biscuit and banana - John got his and devoured it before mine was anywhere close to being ready - simply because the two men in the kiosk were arguing over which one of them were going to get the bananas - which were evidently stored somewhere other than where they stood, it became a battle of wills and at the time I had no idea what was going on as they were arguing in Maltese. Finally one of them apologises to me and tells me that they were deciding who was going to get the bananas!!!! He obviously lost because it was him who disappeared and then reappeared a few minutes later with the goods. It tasted delicious once I got it, so all was well.

After this we went back to the car and decided to try and find a viewpoint in Senglea to take some photos of the harbour, then drove round the coast to Marsaskala and found a place to park up next to the sea where we got out for a bit. It had clouded over and was quite cold, so we went back and sat in the car with the windows wound down slightly so that we could listen to the voice of the Mediterranean sea. It was really relaxing sitting there just watching and hearing the waves rolling in - so we sat there for quite a while and then decided to start heading back towards the north of the island. We stop on the way where we find a deserted clifftop carpark and make our way down to the also deserted beach below. It had warmed up a bit again, so we went for a stroll along the cliff top - lovely fresh sea air.

Tomorrow we are thinking of hopping on the ferry across to the island of Gozo.
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Comments

starlagurl
starlagurl on

Wow a mystery!
Too bad no photos. It would be interesting to see this mysterious place. Glad all the hype was right, and I'm glad you could get in!

Louise

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