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Paris Catacombs

One of my blog posts was about visiting dead people in cemeteries and church crypts. I neglected to tell you about the real fun trip we had visiting the dead in a place you’d never imagine. We went to visit the six million dead people whose bones are stacked up in 186 miles of limestone caverns (or quarries as they call them here) located 29 meters below the streets of Paris. It is the ossuary called the Catacombs of Paris.

You talk about creepy. Here are all these bones and skulls stacked neatly in rows. Sometimes they are arranged to make a statement to the visitor. Sometimes there are piles like the wheelbarrow just dumped them from their original cemeteries.

P_002 by Stew Ross Travel
Dan at Paris Catacombs

By the end of the 12th century, extraction of limestone building materials began beneath the streets of Paris. The citizens of Paris were reminded of these caverns in the mid-1700’s when sinkholes would occur. A large (quarter of a mile long) sinkhole happened a week before Christmas 1774. The king appointed Charles-Axel Guillaumot (1730-1807) as Inspector of the Quarries, a title he would hold until his death.

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