Paris is known to be one of the most beautiful and alluring cities in the world. Many tourists head to this romantic city for a number of valid reasons: natural scenery, friendly and warm people, well-preserved historical structures, ancient architecture, culture and tradition, fashion, entertainment, shops, culinary, so on and so forth.
There is no denying that every corner of Paris pleases the senses through its aesthetic appeal, the reason why it has become one of the most famous cities in the world. However, not all realize that beneath the alluring city of Paris are more than 200 miles of tunnels lined-up by thousands upon thousands of skulls and bones. It used to be Paris’ dark secret, until the modern times when the catacombs were exposed to the public and caught the attention of tourists. Now, the itinerary of Paris trip is not complete without going down to the tunnels to see the catacombs.
There is a story circulating that the tunnels were used as the storage of skulls and bones because of the overflowing issues of the cemeteries of Paris. Louis XVI ordered that all cemeteries must be outside the city, but due to the population of the dead bodies, some of the skulls and bones overflew to the next cities. Since the city needed a better place for the bones and skulls, when the French Revolution happened, the dead were buried directly to the catacomb’s ossuaries.
Tourists enter the Paris Catacombs through the public gate located in Paris’ 14th arrodissement, at 1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy. The walk and visit to the catacombs take about 45 minutes, and there are audio guides that can be purchased for a more detailed viewing. There are also tourist guides in the area shall visitors need assistance. The tunnel stretches up to a few miles, but there are only designated places for touring and public viewing. Therefore, going to the other parts of the tunnel without an accredited tourist guide is strictly prohibited.
The Paris Catacombs served as the final resting place of the people of France from centuries ago, where the ossuaries contain the bones and remains of almost six million people. The tunnels where the bones are kept have fascinating stories to tell, which makes the catacombs a historic attraction of the city. Tagged as France’s Empire of the Dead, the tunnels have become death on display where a horrifying mosaics of bones line-up the walls. The catacombs were opened for public viewing during the 18th century, became a small-scale tourist attraction in the 19th century, and promoted as a full-scale tourist destination in 2009. Now, nobody ends the Paris trip without having a sight of France’s Empire of the Dead no matter how disturbing, hair-raising, and grotesque this unique attraction is.