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Say Yes to The World: A Journey Into The Enigmatic Paris Catacombs

Beneath the bustling streets of Paris lies an underground world shrouded in mystery and history – the Catacombs of Paris. These underground tunnels, known as the “Empire of the Dead,” hold a dark and enigmatic allure that has fascinated adventurers, historians, and curious travellers for centuries. In this article, we will embark on a journey to explore the fascinating catacombs of Paris, uncovering the secrets, history, and unique atmosphere that make them a truly one-of-a-kind attraction.

The origins of the Catacombs can be traced back to the late 18th century when Paris faced a crisis of overcrowded cemeteries. The city’s cemeteries were overflowing, posing a serious public health hazard. The solution was to relocate the remains from various burial grounds to the abandoned quarries below the city. Between 1786 and 1788, the exhumation and transfer of an estimated six million skeletal remains took place, transforming the tunnels into a labyrinthine underground ossuary.

The catacombs are an intricate network of tunnels and chambers that extend for over 200 miles beneath the City of Light. The catacombs are divided into several sections, with names like “Port-Mahon” and “La Plage,” which were given during the 18th-century construction to evoke images of exotic destinations. The tunnels are lined with neatly stacked bones and skulls, creating a macabre yet strangely mesmerizing atmosphere.

One of the most striking features of the Catacombs is the artistic arrangement of the bones. Skulls are stacked in geometric patterns, and femurs and tibias are artfully positioned to create walls of death. In some areas, visitors can find inscriptions and memorial plaques, adding a touch of reverence to this eerie place.

Tourists can access a portion of the Catacombs for a unique and thought-provoking experience. A visit to the Catacombs typically begins with a descent down a spiral stone staircase that takes you deep into the underground world.

If you plan to visit the Catacombs of Paris, here are some practical tips:


Tickets: It’s recommended to purchase tickets in advance to avoid long lines, especially during peak tourist seasons.


Footwear: Wear comfortable and sturdy shoes, as the floor can be uneven and slippery.


Camera: Photography is allowed, so bring your camera to capture the eerie beauty of the Catacombs.

As you wander through the tunnels, you’ll come across inscriptions, sculptures, and even ancient graffiti left by visitors over the centuries.

While the guided portion of the Catacombs covers just a small fraction of the vast network, it offers a glimpse into the fascinating history and purpose of this underground ossuary. The cool, damp air and the echoing footsteps enhance the eerie and surreal ambiance of the Catacombs.

Paris’ Catacombs have long been the subject of myths and legends. Some believe the tunnels are haunted, and stories of mysterious figures lurking in the darkness have added to their mystique. Urban explorers have ventured deeper into the off-limits areas, and tales of their escapades contribute to the aura of danger and intrigue surrounding this underground world.

The Catacombs of Paris offer a journey into the depths of history and mortality. It’s a place where the past meets the present, and the line between life and death blurs. A visit to this underground world is an unforgettable experience, inviting you to reflect on the impermanence of life and the enduring allure of the macabre. The Catacombs are not only a testament to the resourcefulness of 18th-century Parisians but also a testament to the enduring fascination with the enigmatic and the unknown.

More information on the Paris Catacombs’ working hours, visits with children, guided tours, etc can be found here.

You can buy in advance your tickets for the Paris Catacombs here

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