ut of all trips described in this guide, Paola is the closest one to Valetta. It contains the site which I consider most worth seeing: the Ħal Saflieni hypogeum. In combination with a visit to Tarxien temples (and optionally, Kordin III temple) which are within a walking distance from the hypogeum, I think Paola gives you the most worth for your money.
Ħal Saflieni hypogeum
It’s the most impressive sacred site I visited in Malta, especially after you realise that it was all cut in rock with stone tools and nothing more. While walking the corridors of the hypogeum, I was filled with awe but also an overwhelming feeling of grief at all that was lost. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photographs from that visit. As an undergound site, carved in limestone, it is vulnerable to damage caused by light. Carbon dioxide introduced by human breath is also a serious threat to the paintings. For that reason access to the hypogeum is strictly controlled, the tours are short, and visitors are not able to visit all the levels. (There is also no possibility of touching anything or leaving offerings). Despite this, I consider the hypogeum a must-see. The tour is additionally enhanced by audio-guides, which apart from the tour contain experimental music played in the hypogeum by an artist using instruments that would have been available to Neolithic people.
- Route by bus
- Valetta – Paola (Paola 3, Pjazza or Ipogew bus stop). Get to Triq Hal Luqa (south from Paola 3, north-west from Ipogew), follow the street south, turn right into Triq Ic Cimiterju.
- Time by bus
- about 25 mins
- you have to reserve the tickets well in advance or buy the last minute ones in Valetta (check out the tips post). The entrance may be hard to find because it looks like a normal building front. Set off well in advance so that you don’t miss your reserved tour. When in doubt, follow the signs or ask locals.
Tarxien temple complex
The current theory for the proximity of Tarxien temples and Ħal Saflieni hypogeum is that every major temple complex had an accompanying burial site. This is confirmed by the fact that he tombs of Xagħra Stone Circle are located close to the Ġgantija temples. It’s theorised that other underground burial sites exist, but haven’t been discovered yet. (Personally, I think Xemxija and Buġibba may have been linked as well).
- Route by foot
- start at the Hypogeum. Walk east towards Triq Hal Luqa, follow it north, turn right into Triq Hal Tarxien, follow it south-west, turn left into Triq it Tempji Neolitici, follow it north, the entry will be on the right.
- the entrance may be hard to find because it looks like a normal building front. When in doubt, follow the signs or ask locals.
Kordin III temple
- Route by foot
- exit the Tarxien temples and go west until Triq Is Sorijet. Follow the street north, pass the greenery, cross to the large roundabout to the west. You should see the Ghajn Dwieli church. Immediately to the left of the church there is a walled yard. The Kordin III temple is visible through a gate. When in doubt, ask the locals how to get to the church or the mosque (it’s opposite of the church).
- Time by foot
- from Tarxien to Kordin III, 20 mins
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