Les Catacombes de Paris (L'Ossuaire Municipal)
The Catacombs of Paris hold the remains of approximately 6 million people and is an underground cemetery used to accommodate the overflow of bodies in the cemeteries in Paris. As the conditions in most of the cemeteries in Paris were overflowing, the big concern was Les Innocents as the big central mound was growing daily and bodies were known to appear out of nowhere; the fear of disease was rampant, and the weight of the bodies in the cemetery caused a wall to collapse into a nearby basement. Cemeteries were closed until a decision was made regarding the problem.
At first, visitation to the catacombs was very sketchy, partly due to the vandalism of the sites, partly due to the opposition of the Catholic Church and the sanctity of the grounds, and partly due to the construction that was occurring inside the site. One of the first known visitors of note was the Count of Artois; Napoleon himself has also visited the site.
Today, the tour lasts approximately 45 minutes, but I would recommend a jacket and a pair of running shoes as it can get mucky down there, and it is cold and damp. Also, you will have to climb up and down a number of steps, I believe over one hundred to go down, and about 80 to go back up.
* The Catacombs are approximately 20 metres deep.
* The Catacombs are approximately 200 miles long, 11 000 square metres (in addition to the 2100 km of sewer tunnels and the 199 km of subway tracks)
* There are dozens of entrances to the Catacombs, but most of them have been bricked up.
* During WWII, German soldiers used the tunnels to establish an underground bunker.
* The temperature averages about 14 degrees Celsius.
* Many of the areas are still not open to the public.
* Tomb dedicated to a man who was lost in the Catacombs and his body was recovered 11 years later.
* Cataphiles - People who break the law and dare the hefty fines to explore the restricted areas of the Catacombs.
I have actually visited the Catacombs on two occasions and to say they are creepy is an
While extremely intriguing, the Catacombs are quite eerie, and to be honest, quite depressing. With all the bones lying on top of each other, it really makes you think about your own life and death. No wonder people almost explode out of the exit, into the sunshine, when they come out of the Catacombs, looking for that breath of fresh air that reminds them to be thankful for it. That being said, if you like this kind of thing, the Catacombs are a must visit in Paris.