Sunday, November 1, 2015

Catacombs of Paris

Yasmine Samuel
Paris is known as the city of love and romance, however not many know that under this beautiful city is remains of the dead. Beneath the city lie the Catacombs of Paris, which was built in 1700’s. It is a series of old caves, quarries, and tunnels aligned with bones of the dead, that stretches 186 miles. Catacombs are mostly found throughout the Mediterranean, Rome, Paris, and Italy, but they originated in the Middle East. However the Catacombs of Paris came about after a long spring rain caused the Les Innocents to collapse and the rotten bodies to flow over in the neighboring property. Before catacombs were created, LES INNOCENTS  was the largest cemetery in France, however it became over populated. In 1786 the quarries were blessed and consecrated turning them into the Paris Catacombs. It took two years for all the remains from the Les Innocents and all the other cemeteries in Paris to be transferred and buried in the catacombs. Over six million skulls and bones are along the walls of the underground tunnel. The Catacombs of Paris is open to the public, however the people only has access to a small fraction because people would get lost and eventually die since the catacombs branches off.
Even though it is illegal and there is a seventy- seven dollar fine for roaming certain parts of the Paris Catacombs; they are still roamed clandestine groups sometimes spend day and night below the city. CATAPHILES, who love the Paris underground, seek peace and quiet, and it is their way of escaping the laws of the city. They are quite welcoming because being underground with people that have the same interest, there is a sense of equality, something that does not exist to them above the city. Vast majority of cataphiles are young males, who have behavioral issues and smoke weed. Cataphiles get in the Catacombs of Paris by using secret entrances in sewers, man hole, and more. Nobody knows for sure because information about where to find them is kept a secret and not shared with outsiders. Some use the catacombs as canvas for artwork, take photos, draw maps, and others use it as a place to party at a cheaper cost in a more juvenile atmosphere than the bars and clubs. Since most of their time is spent underground, cataphiles furnishes certain parts with stone benches and tables to rest and socialize.
According to John Law, one of the founders of the San Francisco Suicide Club that in the 1970s arranged events inside off- limits bridge towers and vacant hospitals. Thought of the Catacombs of Paris as an astonishing place that him and the group of explores he was with would remember the experience greatly—if they make it out alive. Experiencing first-hand how cataphiles roam underground without a map, possibly of falling into shafts, and passing many confusing chamber and crawl spaces not knowing where or what it led to. John Law and his team experience proves how people who are not reallyfamiliar with the Catacombs of Paris risk their life. Simply because they are not familiar with all the portals that lead back to the city surface.
Works cited:
Breeden Aurelien. “The Secret is out on a Cherished Underground Haven.” The New York Times Company, 20 Oct 2014. Web. 14 Oct 2015.

Heritageinaction. “Down the Rabbit Hole- Letting Paris’s Hidden Subculture of Tunnels.” Heritage in Action, 11 June 2012. Web. 19 Oct 2015.

“Paris’ Les Innocents Cemetery.” Paris-Promenades, n.d. Web.20 Oct 2015.
Solis Julia. “Paris’s Urban Underground.” National Geographic Society, 2007. Web. 19 Oct 2015.
Links for further research: 
National Geographic
Gives insight about the history of the Paris Catacombs, but also information about how they are today.

Les Catacombes Historie de Paris
Gives information and important dates about the Paris Catacombs and provides the things visitors see when touring it.

What Lies Beneath; The discovery of A Cinema Below the Streets of Paris Has Drawn
Tells about how the use of Paris Catacombs has changed as time progressed, and how much of a risk cataphiles take to be underground.

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