The Paris catacombs, oh- my- gosh! They give you the chills just looking at images of them, let alone looking at them in the flesh and definitely let alone STAYING in them.
Here is their story...
Paris, the capital of France, is often called La Ville Lumière (meaning ‘The City of Light’), however, beneath this bustling European city of 12 million people, lies a dark subterranean world holding the remains of 6 million of its former inhabitants. 6 million!! yes SIX!
Extending south from the Barrière d’Enfer ("Gate of Hell") former city gate, These are the Paris Catacombs: a network of old caves, quarries and tunnels stretching hundreds of miles, and seemingly lined with the bones of the dead.
As Paris grew into its role as a major European hub, it eventually ran into a major problem: by the 17th century, enough people had lived and died in Paris that its cemeteries were overflowing, overstuffed with graves to the point when corpses, at times became uncovered.
Those living in the Les Halles neighborhood near Les Innocents, the city’s oldest and largest cemetery were among the first to complain, reporting the cemetery exuded a strong smell of decomposing flesh—even perfume stores claimed they couldn’t do business because of the off-putting smell.
In 1763, an edict was issued by Louis XV banning all burials from the capital. The Church, however, did not wish to disturb or move the cemeteries, and opposed the edict. As a result, nothing was done. Louis XVI, Louis XV’s successor, continued the crusade, also proclaiming that all cemeteries should be moved outside of Paris, The situation persisted until 1780, when an unusually long period of spring rain caused a wall around the Les Innocents to collapse, resulting in the spilling of rotting corpses into a neighboring property. By this time, the French authorities were forced to take action.
And so the solution arose to place them in the centuries-old tunnels that had existed beneath the streets of Paris since the 13th century, remnants of a time when limestone quarries were mined to build Paris into a thriving city. By the time these burials ended, 6 million Parisians’ bones came to their final resting place in the city’s catacombs situated twenty metres below ground.
Preparation work began not long after a 1774 series of gruesome Saint Innocents-cemetery-quarter basement wall collapses added a sense of urgency to the cemetery-eliminating measure, and from 1786, nightly processions of covered wagons transferred remains from most of Paris' cemeteries to a mine shaft opened near the Rue de la Tombe-Issoire.
The dead were buried directly in the catacomb’s ossuaries. Some famous (or infamous) characters from history who call the catacombs their final resting place include Jean-Paul Marat, one of the Revolution’s most radical voices, and Maximilien de Robespierre, an influential figure during both the Revolution and the subsequent Reign of Terror. The city stopped moving bones into the ossuaries in 1860.
Seven years later, the catacombs were open to the public. In total the winding catacombs stretch over 300 kilometers (186 miles).
Today, a little more than a mile of the catacombs is open for visitors to explore. The public entrance is located in Paris’ 14th arrondissement, at 1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy. It takes about 45 minutes to walk through. Guides are available, but not required
It has been illegal since 1955 to enter the other parts of the catacombs. Nevertheless, during the 1970s and 80s, the catacombs have been explored illegally by Parisian urban explorers known as Cataphiles. Some of the spaces have even been restored and turned into creative spaces. One of these underground caverns, for instance, was transformed into a secret amphitheatre, complete with a giant cinema screen, projection equipment, a couple of films and seats. The neighbouring area was revamped into a fully-stocked bar and a restaurant, perhaps where the patrons of the amphitheatre could get a snack or a meal.
In 2015, Airbnb even offered a winning person (or persons) to stay for a night in the catacombs,
in a rather luxury bed if im honest.. I kid you not, check it out here
Before the entrance to the ossuary, there’s an underground space used for themed exhibitions (2014′s exhibit deals with Paris’ geological history as an ancient sea). As visitors pass into the ossuary, they walk under a doorway with a haunting inscription above: “Arrête, c’est ici l’empire de la mort!” (Stop! This is the empire of death!). Inside the ossuary, bones are grouped by the cemeteries that they came from. Some are neatly stacked along the corridors; others arranged in patterns, creating crosses and other images. Visitors can also see sculptures in the Port-Mahon corridor created by a quarry-man, and veteran of Louis XV’s army, years before the bodies moved in. The main sculpture is a model of the fortress of Port-Mahon, a large island town where the creator, “Décure,” is believed to have been held prisoner by the English during the Seven Years War.
Those who dare venture into the catacombs after midnight reportedly hear the walls talking to them. Disembodied voices try to lure adventurers farther into the tunnels, encouraging them to lose their way and suffer a slow and agonising death.
There are rumours of people wandering off into the maze-like tunnels and going mad.
In 2010, cave explorers recovered video footage that they claimed showed a man wandering, lost, through the dark corridors until he finally panics, drops the camera, and bolts off into the dark, never to be seen again (though others doubt the authenticity of the recording).
The footage is said to have inspired the catacomb horror movie As Above, So Below (2014).
The footage in question is in part one and part 2 below for your viewing.
also a rather brilliantly written article about this very video you can read here.
If that wasn't terrifying enough, cultists are said to steal bodies from morgues and bring them into the catacombs to perform evil rituals. The remains of sacrificial murder victims are also said to litter the dark corridors already embedded with human bones.
20 metres : The depth of the Catacombs, equivalent to a five-story building
213 : The total number of steps during the tour (130 to go down and 83 to reach the exit)
2 kilometres : The distance covered by the tour
45 minutes : The average duration of the tour
14°C : The constant temperature in the Catacombs
11,000 sq. m : The surface area of the ossuary
800 metres : The length of the galleries in the ossuary
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