The Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum, Paola, Malta, is a subterranean structure excavated c. 2500 B.C. Thought to be originally a sanctuary, it became a necropolis in prehistoric times. It is the only prehistoric underground temple in the world. The Hypogeum was depicted on a 2 cents 5 mils stamp issued in the Maltese Islands in 1980 to commemorate the acceptance by UNESCO of this unique structure in the World Heritage Site list. It was closed to visitors between 1992 and 1996 for restoration works.
It was discovered by accident in 1902 when workers cutting cisterns for a new housing development broke through its roof. The study of the structure was first entrusted to Father Manuel Magri of the Society of Jesus, who directed the excavations on behalf of the Museums Committee. Magri unfortunately died in 1907, before the publication of the report. Following Magri's sudden death, excavation resumed under Sir Temi Zammit. (more...)
Senglea is a fortified city in the east of Malta, mainly in the Grand Harbour area. It is one of the Three Cities, with the other two being Cospicua and Vittoriosa. The city of Senglea is also called Citta Invicta, because it managed to resist the Ottoman invasion at the Great Siege of 1565. The proper name is Senglea since the grandmaster who built it Claude De La Sengle, gave this city a part of his name. The island was in fact joined by a landbridge to Cospicua during the time of the Knights of St. John and as a result, it became peninsular in shape. During the time of the Knights of St. John, Senglea was also used as a hunting area, and was in fact known as L'Isola di San Giuliano, but later it was developed and made inhabitable by the Grand Master, Claude de la Sengle who built fortifications following a Turkish invasion in 1551. The locality eventually became known as Senglea but retained its old name Isla. (more...)
Photo credit: Jean-Christophe Benoist
St John's Co-Cathedral contains eight rich chapels, each of which was dedicated to the patron saint of the eightlangues (or sections) of the Knights. The inside of the Cathedral is in sharp contrast to the facade as the extremely ornate interior decorated in the height of the Baroque period. The inside was largely decorated by Mattia Preti, the Calabrian artist and Knight. Preti designed the intricate carved stone walls and painted the vaulted ceiling and side altars with scenes from the life of St John.
Did you know
- ...that Malta was the most heavily bombed place on earth, and that more bombs fell on Malta than on the English industrial town of Coventry?
UNESCO World Heritage Sites