The Catacombs of Paris: 10 Centuries of Human Remains In One Place

The capital of France is filled with incredible sightseeing objectives. Although Paris is considered to be the city of love, it has a macabre spot: the Catacombs of Paris, that are included in top 10 tourist attractions in Paris.

It is the only ossuary in the world, that contains the skeletons of over 6 million people. Apart from the incredible amount of human remains, the Catacombs of Paris have even more impressive history.

By the late 10th century, a considerable area of the parish territory was filled with cemeteries. In order to save space, those who had been buried a long time ago were exhumed and replaced with new bodies. The remains used to be gathered and stored in the galleries inside of the cemetery walls. Eight centuries later, the main cemetery included over two feet high mound, filled with thousands of years old skeletons.

By the end of the 18th century it was clear, that the cemetery couldn’t keep up with the constantly growing number of bodies. Human remains belonging to several cemeteries around the city were moved to the Catacombs. However, it wasn’t until 1810 that the ossuary began to take the shape it has today. The head of the Paris Mine Inspection Service at the time, Louis-Etienne Hericart de Thury, came up with the idea of turning the place into a mausoleum. Each skull and bone was placed on top of others, resulting in walls covered in human remains.

The so-called “Gate of Hell,” which is Paris official gate, is the beginning of an unforgettable journey. Besides skulls, visitors see engravings and pillars. In certain rooms there are displayed certain minerals found over the years under Paris, as well as tablets with various inscriptions regarding the ossuary.
Ever since 1787, when the Count of Artois; the first notable visitor, entered these mysterious tunnels, the Catacombs of Paris have been a popular sightseeing spot.

Submitted by Hamid Bagha. Thank you.

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