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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Not For Those of Nervous Disposition!

The Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs
Sixty five feet below the city of Paris lies a macabre yet interesting display of history.  This underground necropolis know as The Catacombs, houses millions of bones belonging to cadaverous Parisians.

The Catacombs
Bone display inside The Catacombs

Although far older than 228 years, The Catacombs were officially blessed and consecrated in April 1786.  It was then that city officials deemed the above ground cemeteries a public health hazard due to overcrowding.

Taking two years, and thousands of man hours, the bones from the Cimetiere des Innocents graveyard were transferred to this unique underground golgotha. Subsequent transfers from additional boneyards are represented in this gruesome crypt below the city. 

Bones from St. Jean Cemetery-The Catacombs
Bones from St. Jean Cemetery

Today, The Catacombs are officially part of the History of Paris Museum. They showcase millions of years of geological history, as well as the charnel house holding the remains of over six million Parisian souls.  The bones are stacked and arranged in provocative displays in an attempt to honor the lives of those entombed here.

Catacombs of Paris
Inside The Catacombs of Paris

 If you go:
  • Plan to arrive early.  For safety reasons only 200 visitors are allowed in the tunnels at one time.  Crowds circle the block waiting to purchase tickets for this intriguing tour.
  • There are no restrooms once inside The Catacombs.  Be sure to use the washroom before you go.
  • The Catacombs are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5 PM.  Closed Mondays and public holidays.
  • Wear good walking shoes.  A steep winding staircase takes you into The Catacombs, and once inside there is a 2 kilometer walk through the ossuary.
Remember, The Catacombs are not suitable for small children, those with heart, respiratory or mobility problems, or those of nervous disposition!


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