We had waited in line for an hour and a half to enter The Catacombs in Paris, France and it was very cold and windy morning (I was kicking myself for not buying the Skip the Line tickets!). As we walked down many steps and long, empty corridors, my heart was pounding. There is something strange about the place- you can feel it in the air. It will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. Let me add that this feeling comes way before you even reach the section where the bones are kept. The underground tunnels and quarries of this municipal ossuary houses between 6 and 7 million skeletons. You actually have to walk for approximately 10 minutes, maybe longer to reach the skeletons.
In 1785, the government decided to discontinue the use of the Cemetery of Innocents and to remove the bodies that had already been buried there. The cemetery was becoming overcrowded which led to the property and the incoming corpses to not be taken care of as they should have been. Bodies were not being interred properly which led to the spread of disease and unhealthy living conditions for the local townspeople near the graves. By 1786, the skeletons were being removed from the graves and transferred to the local quarries. This project continued and other cemeteries were cleared out until 1859. By 1867, the Catacombs were open to the public (only certain sections). Even the infamous Napoleon Bonaparte visited here!
If you are visiting Paris and are feeling adventurous, I recommend that you visit the Catacombs! There is interesting history behind it and like a horror movie, it will give you chills up your spine! However, if you have mobility problems, this may not be the attraction for you. It is around 40-60 minutes to walk through and there are many steps leading down into the catacombs and back up when you’re leaving. Keep in mind there will also usually be a long line to get in, so get there early or purchase Skip the Line tickets (I wish I had done that!)
If you need general information about the Catacombs, here is the website: http://www.catacombes.paris.fr/en/homepage-catacombs-official-website
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