But it is deep underground, buried into the ancient rock, that the region’s greatest wonders are concealed.
Here, 100ft down and hidden from public view, lies an astonishing secret – one that has drawn comparisons with the fabled city of Atlantis and has been dubbed ‘the Eighth Wonder of the World’ by the Italian government.
For weaving their way underneath the hillside are nine ornate temples, on five levels, whose scale and opulence take the breath away.
Constructed like a three-dimensional book, narrating the history of humanity, they are linked by hundreds of metres of richly decorated tunnels and occupy almost 300,000 cubic feet – Big Ben is 15,000 cubic feet.
Few have been granted permission to see these marvels.
Indeed, the Italian government was not even aware of their existence until a few years ago.
But the ‘Temples of Damanhur’ are not the great legacy of some long-lost civilisation, they are the work of a 57-year-old former insurance broker from northern Italy who, inspired by a childhood vision, began digging into the rock. [continue, see photos]