Catacombs of Paris

This was one of the most surprising and interesting discoveries I have made on travels to another major city.  

Paris had health issues from overcrowded cemeteries dating as far back as Roman times. But they also had a hundreds of miles of tunnels used to quarry the stone for the great architectural monuments of Paris such as Notre Dame. It was a Police Lt Alexandre Lenoir who was given the job to oversee the quarry consolidation when he came up with the out of the box solution for the cemetary overcrowding. Why not move the bodies down here?

From 1786 to 1787 they exhumed and moved the bones of 6,000,000 into these quarry tunnels.

It is now an unusual museum. Difficult to enter after a 3 hour wait in line. Then you must climb down long narrow stairs and go through endless dark, narrow, tunnels. At least one person came bolting back up the stairs as I went down. She appeared uncomfortable from the conditions and hard not to blame her. But you adjust. You walk for what seems to be 20 minutes before arriving to the doorway to the Ossiary.

Above the doorway it reads "Arrete! C'est Ici L'Empire De La Mort" or Stop! This is the Empire of Death.

Once you enter the vast piles of skulls and bones go on and on forever. And you are only seeing a very small part of the 6,000,000 skeletons. 


“Heureux celui qui a toujours devant les yeux l’heure de sa mort et qui se dispose tous les jours a mourir” – “Happy is he who always keeps the hour of his death before him and spends every day dying.”
The remains of some six million people are collected here, and although individuals can’t be identified, it’s ironic that members of the French nobility have ended up side by side with the revolutionaries who exterminated them.