The Catacombs of Paris: Unusual & Interesting Tourist Destinations
A sign at the entranceway to the Catacombs of Paris reads
"Arrete, c'est l'empire de la mort," which, in English
means "Stop! This is the empire of death."
The bones of 6 million people are stacked below the
streets of Paris in the Catacombs.
Not the most inviting words, but they don't stop tourists
from trekking down 100 feet into Paris' underground labyrinth
of tunnels and catacombs. The catacombs (les Catacombes) contain
the remains of up to 6 million people, whose bones were transferred
from overcrowded cemeteries to the underground caverns in
the late 1700s.
Today tourists can walk through the walls of bones, some
arranged into eerie patterns, and read various plaques with
everything from morbid sayings to requests for prayer.
185 Miles of Tunnels
The catacombs are actually only a small part of the Paris
underground, which includes 185 miles of tunnels, most of
which are old quarries from Roman times, from which limestone
was dug to build the city.
Only a small section of the catacombs are open to the
public. It's illegal, and dangerous, to explore the
rest of the 185-mile underground maze.
Aside from the guided catacomb tours, the underground network
is off-limits to the public, and has been so since 1955. A
special unit of Parisian police circulates the tunnels, but
secret groups known as "cataphiles" or "urban
explorers" are known to frequent the maze, holding secret
parties. And, in 2004, a fully functioning cinema, bar and
restaurant were even discovered in one of the underground
caves, set up there by an urban explorer group called The
The catacombs were also known to house an array of people
throughout history, from 13th-century bandits in hiding to
sorcerers who are said to have used the area for black masses
during the 1348 plague, to resistance fighters who hid there
during World War II.
Want to Visit the Catacombs of Paris?
The entrance is located at 1 place Denfert-Rochereau, Paris,
France. But you can get more information from perusing these
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