Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Catacombs of Paris

by Micah Brewer

Photo by National Geographic, photographer Stephen Alvarez
Deep under the streets of Paris lie a labyrinth of tunnels stretching eleven-thousand square miles with walls lined of bones. The bones used to construct these come from the millions of people that were transferred to the catacombs from graveyards in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Graveyards such as Cimetière des Innocents, were considered threats to the public. The overcrowded graveyards were detrimental to the overall health and cleanliness of the city due to the smell of the graveyards and the bacteria. The catacombs are known for housing a few notable figures such as Madame Elisabeth, Simon Vouet, and Salomen De Brosse.

Some people who decide to venture off into the dark depths of the catacombs do not always return to the surface. Some individuals who have returned claim to hear the walls speaking to them after midnight. The eerie voices were encouraging them to lose their way by travelling deeper into the tunnels and suffer a horrible death. Catacomb explorers recovered video evidence of this. The video displayed a man wandering, without direction, deeper into the dark pathways of the Paris catacombs. Eventually, the man panics and drops the camera. He is then seen running off into a dark corridor. It is also believed that different cults steal bodies from morgues which are then brought into the catacombs for satanic rituals.

Catophiles is the name given to the people who enjoy being in the catacombs and exploring them. Catophiles often throw parties in the tunnels of the catacombs. Catophiles also journey into unmapped areas of the catacombs in search of naturally made swimming pools. To reach these pools they must venture into claustrophobia-inducing tunnels and wade through murky waters to reach a natural oasis.

Organized catacomb tours are offered to the public in Paris. A ticket can be purchased for as low as twenty-nine euros which is equivalent to thirty-three dollars and six cents in U.S. currency. It is best to stay with your tour group to reduce this risk of getting lost and to reduce the likelihood that the walls will start talking to you.

Works Cited:
Roger-Viollet, “The Origin of the Catacombs.” Les Catacombs, 2018, http://www.catacombes.paris.fr/en/catacombs

Hill, Jacob, “Ten bone-chilling facts about the catacombs in Paris.” Listverse.com, 2018, http://listverse.com/2018/05/14/10-bone-chilling-facts-about-the-catacombs-of-paris/

Cooney, Caroline H., “Ten chilling stories from catacombs around the world.” Graveyardshift.com, https://www.ranker.com/list/ghost-stories-about-haunted-catacombs/caroline-cooney, accessed 2018

Further research links:
The link above gives you a more in-depth explanation of the history and structure of the Paris Catacombs.

The link above gives us more interesting facts about the catacombs.

The link above gives you insight into the Rome catacombs to compare and contrast with the Paris catacombs.

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