Catacombs of Paris - An obligatory route for thrill seekers and those who have already managed to get enough of the romantic atmosphere of Montmartre and the Champs Elysees. An intricate network of underground tunnels, the total length of which, according to various sources, ranges from 187 to 300 kilometers, has an indescribable infernal flavor and attractiveness.
The story of one collapse
The cause of the Paris catacombs is quite prosaic. Gloomy labyrinths are abandoned quarries, which at the end of the 10th century were the main suppliers of limestone to churches and royal palaces. Initially, the mines were outside the city, but by the middle of the XVIII century, Paris had decisively stepped over its own borders, as a result of which Saint-Jacques Street, the suburbs of St. Victor and Saint-Germain-des-Prés were in a dangerous position: the suburbs literally hung over the abyss .
Already in 1774, part of the houses on Danfer Street collapsed underground along with their inhabitants. The cause of the disaster was a collapse in one of the drifts. Not wanting to repeat the fate of his unlucky subjects in the future, Louis XVI hastily issued a decree establishing the General Inspection of Quarries. What is interesting: this organization, whose work is to strengthen particularly dangerous sections of mines, still exists.
From mine to ossuary
Travel guides often describe the catacombs of Paris as a "room of fear" filled with skulls and fragments of skeletons. When visiting this place, he is drawn to think about the “frailty of being”, indulge in grief and ask eternal philosophical questions. However, underground tunnels became a container for human remains only at the end of the 18th century, after an incident at the Innocent cemetery.
By tradition, the deceased were buried in Paris on church-owned land, that is, within the city. Countless corpses were brought to the cemeteries, sometimes waiting several weeks for their burial line. Residents of houses adjacent to the Innocent cemetery in 1780 experienced a special “joy”: the wall separating the necropolis from the residential quarter collapsed, filling the basements of the houses with decaying bodies. Driven by the anger of the Parisians, the authorities began to cleanse the city cemeteries, organizing the transfer of the remains to the catacombs. The work lasted almost 15 months.
Plan of the Catacombs of 1858 Map of the former underground mine of exploitation in Paris (1908)
Empire of death
Paris catacombs are not just a network of boring corridors. This is an underground museum with its strange, but, nevertheless, interesting exhibits. Stone wells, architectural bas-reliefs and unpretentious drawings, scratched in the thickness of the limestone by former quarry workers, keep their own, sometimes quite ominous stories.
Corridors made of bones Ossuary of Paris catacombs
The final stage of a walk through the catacombs of Paris is a visit to the ossuary. The ossuary is a truly infernal spectacle. Neat stacks of tibia and skulls can inspire primitive horror, even for horror fans. Initially, fragments of skeletons transferred here from Parisian cemeteries were simply randomly dumped. And only in 1810 the members of the General Inspectorate decided to restore order in the crypt. So there was a wall of bones with a length of 780 meters. To enhance the dark effect, tablets with philosophical sayings reminiscent of the transience of earthly life are hung in the dungeon. It is in the ossuary that the remains of Nicolas Fouquet, Francois Rabelais, Charles Perrault, Pascal Blaise and Robespierre rest.
Recently, the gloomy beauty of the catacombs has been greatly affected by the destructive effects of groundwater. Since 1980, their level has been gradually rising. Water floods the quarries of the quarries, and also erodes the fastening system, contributing to the collapse of the tunnels. Scientists do not exclude that over time, "underground Paris" may completely disappear. In the meantime, every tourist has the opportunity to walk along the dark corridors of limestone mines and enjoy their mystical atmosphere. Who knows, maybe in a few years an extraordinary sight will remain only in amateur photographs and in the memory of those who managed to look into the “belly of Paris” before it disappeared ...
Travel tips and tricks for visiting the catacombs of Paris
The catacombs of Paris are open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 to 17 hours, the last reception of visitors is carried out no later than 16:00. Despite the mystical and gloomy atmosphere, about 160 thousand people visit the catacombs annually. Accordingly, you have to come to terms with the fact that long lines to the sights are a common and inevitable phenomenon. However, if you come to the pavilion a couple of hours before its opening, then there is a chance to get acquainted with the secrets of the Paris dungeon without wasting time on a long wait.
Visiting the underground tunnels is a serious test for the nervous system, so descent into the quarry alone is strictly prohibited. Participation in this event is not recommended for people with heart disease and breathing problems, as well as for children and overly impressionable individuals. At the same time, officially, tourists under the age of 14 are entitled to free sightseeing.
Tombs and burials Aisle with arches
The descent into the mines is carried out along a spiral staircase that goes to a depth of about 20 meters. The staff of the pavilion carefully monitors that the number of visitors located simultaneously in the catacombs does not exceed 200 people, which partially explains the presence of queues. Given that the constantly maintained temperature in the tunnels does not exceed 14 degrees, it makes sense to dress warmer. But you should not take extra things with you: there are no dressing rooms, elevators and toilets in the dungeon. During the tour amateur photography is allowed (without the use of professional photo equipment).
When descending into the labyrinth, a rare newcomer does not ask: “Can anyone get lost here?” Today such a danger is excluded, since most branches and drifts are blocked. However, any self-respecting guide will not miss the opportunity to tell tourists the heartbreaking story of the church watchman Philibert Asper, who went for a walk in the catacombs of Paris and was found by his countrymen 11 years later as a perfectly preserved mummy. And, of course, not one excursion can do without the traditional urban legends associated with the descent into the quarries.
A curious fact: during the Second World War, a secret bunker of the German army was located in the catacombs, and during the Cold War, bomb shelters were created there, in which the Parisians had to hide in the event of a nuclear attack.
Descent into the Graffiti dungeon in areas of the catacombs remote from the ossuary
How to get there
Today, about 2 kilometers of underground labyrinths are open for visitors. This is only a small and relatively safe part of the entire area of the catacombs of Paris. The entrance to the tunnels is located on the territory of the 14th district, on the Denfert-Rochereau square. To join the ranks of the lucky ones who had the courage to go down to the City of Darkness, you need to buy a metro ticket (lines 4, 6) and ride to the Denfert-Rochereau station. Those who prefer to enjoy the views of the European capital during the trip can take the same route by bus (routes 38, 68).
The descent into the Paris catacombs is located near the exit of the metro station. You can find a modest pavilion, guided by the sculptural figure of a lion, the work of F. Bartholdi. The exact address of the property: 1 avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy.
Catacombs of Paris - the most frightening sight of the city
Paris, the capital of France, is often called La Ville Lumière (which means “City of Light”), but under this vibrant European place of 12 million people is a dark underground world that stores the remains of 6 million former residents. These are the Paris catacombs: a network of old caves, quarries and tunnels hundreds of miles long, which are lined with the bones of the dead.
Under Paris you will find a huge number of tunnels. The French resistance used them during World War II, and party meetings were held here during the 1990s. Victor Hugo used his knowledge of the tunnel system when he wrote Les Miserables. In 1871, the Communards killed a group of monarchists in one of the compartment of the tunnel. Thus, under Paris there is a giant labyrinth that has seen a lot in its history, but no one knows how many tunnels or cameras there are exactly. The capital of France, after all, is a very old city that has been built and rebuilt many times.
But in this labyrinth of tunnels you will find one part open to the public, which is dedicated to the famous catacombs of Paris. They were created at the end of the 18th century. At the turn of the seventeenth century, the largest cemetery in Paris, Le Innocent, became too full of bodies, and living people began to suffer from diseases due to pollution caused by inappropriate burials and open mass graves. Cemeteries and other burial grounds filled up faster, but the population of the city increased even faster. After repeated complaints from residents, the Council of State on November 9, 1785, removed and evacuated the cemetery. The bones were carried into the catacombs from 1786 to 1788. They were transported at night during a ceremony held by a procession of singing priests.
Paris catacombs originate in limestone quarries located on the outskirts of the city. This natural resource was used during the time of the Romans and provided building materials for the buildings of the city, and also contributed to the growth and expansion of the settlement. However, only after the second half of the 18th century did former limestone mines turn into burials.
From the first day of its existence, the catacombs have been a subject of curiosity even for the royal family. In 1787, Lord d’Artois, who became King Charles 10, came down here with the ladies. In 1814, Francois I, Emperor of Austria, went to visit and explore them when he was in Paris. In 1860, Napoleon III went there with his son. Today it can be observed that the walls of the catacombs are also covered with graffiti, dating back to the eighteenth century. At this place, everyone left their mark. By the end of the 18th century, the catacombs had become a tourist attraction, having opened to the public on a regular basis since 1867.
In fact, the catacombs are a terrible sight. They are quiet, dark, moist and a little overwhelming. The space is filled with tons of bones around, most of which are simply stacked on top of each other. You will never know to whom exactly the skulls you are looking at belong, maybe it was a poor man who died from the plague, or a rich aristocrat.
To get to the Catacombs, you can take the RER metro to Denfert-Rochereau or use buses 38 and 68. The museum is open from 10 to 5 pm every day except Monday. Last entrance at 16:00. Visits are limited because only 200 people can visit here per day, and recordings often stop temporarily. Tickets cost 7 euros. Check the operation of the catacombs on the day when you plan to visit the attraction, as the dungeon is sometimes closed without warning or explanation.
How the catacombs appeared
Many cities in the world consist of two parts: the part that is on the surface, and the catacombs that are underground. Almost every major city has its own mysterious stories about mysterious underground passages and terrible dungeons.
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that it will be possible to describe all the underground passages and caves within the framework of one article, so we will consider the most famous catacombs and the most mysterious dungeons that are located in all corners of our planet.
Catacombs of Odessa
Surely, each of you has heard of the hero city of Odessa, which is famous for its most intricate catacombs, with no less mysterious and mysterious history. There are a lot of rumors about the underground passages that are near Odessa.
Every year, people die in the catacombs, even the official prohibition of descent to the ground, which was introduced by the authorities of Odessa, does not help.
The history of the quarries is full of mysteries and has many terrible historical events in its memory.
Catacombs of Paris
Paris is not only the romantic city lovers dream of. The underworld of Paris is not inferior in riddles to the above-described Odessa catacombs. The whole city is built of stone, mined in adits, extending under the entire city and having access to the surface in all suburbs of Paris. "Underground kingdom" or "world without the sun" - this is how Parisians call their dungeons and catacombs, which not every daredevil will go alone.
The catacombs near Paris have a good ventilation system, built in the 19th century and still in operation.
In addition to the catacombs underground, there may be caves and underground voids created by Mother Nature, or other underground structures created by human hands. Some caves have many mysteries. The fauna of the caves is striking in its unique primitiveness and the ability of animals to live in the dark.
Experienced researchers of the bowels of cities do not exclude the possibility of mysterious life forms that pose a threat to humans, while underground.
There are very few facts about such inhabitants of dungeons and catacombs, but they still exist. A few years ago, a legend appeared about the terrible "Rostov beast" who lives in the catacombs of Aksai. The giant rats that occupied the dungeons of Moscow, and the secret metro lines of the capital. There are a lot of rumors. Legends of the underworld are rich in characters who do not like interference and live their own mysterious lives, destroying strangers who dare to violate the boundaries of the underworld.