Monday, 6 September 2010

Catecombs in Paris

Paris - Montparnasse: les Catacombes de ParisImage by wallyg via Flickr
If you want to experience something which isn't for the weak-heartened, then you could visit the catacombs in Paris. Here you'll find long narrow passages and rooms filled with skulls and bones. As if that wasn't enough, it's human bones, and they've been rather creatively arranged . Somebody really spent a significant amount of time creating these bone-walls. You're left to wonder what sort of persons would spend days and months stacking femurs and skulls in patterns, not to mention, some are even humorous.

A question arising is how would a place like this come into existence. It's certainly not something that happened over the years, even if that could be a fascinating story. The real story is more morbid though. A couple of hundred years ago, by the end of the 18th century the cemetery Cimetière des Innocents were so filled up that they had to dig up all the old bones and move them to another location. The cemetery had been in use since the 13th century, and was in the 1870s a picture of stuffed mortgages and mass graves filled with rotting corpses.

Paris is filled with subterranean passages and tunnels. Many were created during the mining of limestone which has been used to build with since the Roman era. So under Paris there was plenty of space to place bones from Paris' overloaded cemeteries. It took nearly a hundred years to move the many bones. By then they had moved the remains from more than six million people from more than 30 cemeteries in Paris.

There are approximately 1,7km passages, 20 metres below the surface, which are accessible for the public.
The entrance is found by Place Denfert-Rochereau, 75014 Paris,RER B og Metro: Denfert- Rochereau
Officiel homepage

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