Traveling can be fun and you always want to find the most interesting explorations. Here are 7 Catacombs Facts that will make you want to explore these tunnels.
There’s nothing better than traveling to someplace exciting and mysterious. And there are few places in the world more mysterious than catacombs of Paris. Some of these tunnels date back hundreds of years and are among the most taboo and creepy places you’ll ever visit.
If you are planning a visit to Paris anytime soon, this is an experience you won’t want to miss out on. Before you book your flight and pack your bags, there are some catacombs facts that you’ll definitely want to be familiar with. Let’s take a look at some interesting things that will help make the most of your adventure.
1. Catacombs Hold the Remains of Millions of Dead Parisians
Believe it or not, the remains of more than six million Parisians are contained in the catacombs. This is both startling and more than a little creepy.
In the 18th century, Paris was running out of space to put their dead. There were simply too many bodies for the cemeteries, and many of those bodies were not buried properly and were spreading disease.
Another significant issue during this time was flooding. After a flood broke the perimeter of cemeteries, bodies began floating to the surface. The dead overflowed into the streets, filling the city with the pungent smell of death. It became clear that something drastic had to be done to solve the problem.
Eventually, the cemeteries were condemned and city officials were forced to move the remains elsewhere. Between 1780 and 1840, all the remains that had been previously buried in the graveyards of Paris were transported to underground quarries.
2. The Catacombs Were Used By Both Sides During World War II
Considering that the catacombs are such a great place to hide, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that this underground tunnel system was utilized by the French Resistance. On the other hand, what might definitely be a shocker is the fact that the Nazis also took advantage of the miles of underground tunnels.
That’s right. The Germans built various bunkers in the catacombs, some of which still exist today.
3. The Catacombs Are Much Bigger Than You Think
Be prepared to be very surprised by the size and scope of this underground world. After all, the tunnels haven’t limited the catacombs. These tunnels were built by miners long before the city decided to use them as storage for the dead.
Also, keep in mind how much space is required to house the remains of six million people. There are at least 200 miles of tunnels, and not all of them are mapped. Thus much of this area remains uncharted territory still waiting to be explored.
4. There are Secret Communities Inside the Tunnels
Certain groups of people like to call themselves cataphiles due to their obsession with the underground world of the catacombs. These urban explorers have a penchant for spending a great deal of time enjoying the tunnels.
These tend to be tightly knit groups, and they have great respect for both the tunnels and the remains of the dead. They create maps, explore, and even hold parties with other tunnel-dwellers, all in an effort to soak in the distinct atmosphere as they disconnect from the world above.
Though this might sound cult-like, these communities are simply made up of people with a shared reverence for the history and mystery of what the catacombs of Paris represent.
5. Some People Swim There
If you spend enough time exploring the vast and winding tunnels of the catacombs, sooner or later you are bound to stumble upon unmapped pools of water. This might seem creepy, and it certainly is.
These pools of water are dark and foreboding and must be waded through in order to continue on into deeper parts of the tunnels.
Believe it or not, some people actually like to sneak down to these pools for a refreshing dip in the dark and murky water. This is certainly not an activity for the weak of heart or those lacking an intoxicating need for adventure.
6. Bones Arranged in Decorative Displays
As macabre as this may sound, many of the bones of the Paris catacombs were arranged into various shapes and patterns by the workers who brought them there.
This sounds like a ghastly sight, but once you’ve witnessed it firsthand, you’ll understand that it’s actually hauntingly beautiful. After all, while it’s true that these are human remains, they are only bones, and thus there is something striking and profound about these artful arrangements.
One of the most iconic examples of these displays of bones is known simply as the Barrel. It’s a pillar formed by stacks of thousands of skulls and tibia that serves as a ceiling support in the area where it was erected. Yes, the Barrel might strike some people as morbid, yet it also has the power to transport the imagination to a long-ago era.
To schedule a tour of the catacombs, click here for more information on tickets and prices.
7. Farmers Once Grew Mushrooms in the Tunnels
In the 19th century, Monsieur Chambery discovered a patch of wild mushrooms growing in a section of the catacombs and decided to begin growing his own button mushrooms in the tunnels.
This soon became a popular practice among Parisian farmers, and thus a thriving industry was born.
As you journey into the catacombs, pay close attention and you might discover some farmers down there still today, growing mushrooms down in the darkness and humidity, fertilized by bones that have been there for centuries.
What do You Think of These Fascinating Catacombs Facts?
These catacombs facts only touch the surface of this amazing place. As you explore any tunnel under Paris, you’ll discover a fascinating history that most people will never have the pleasure of being exposed to.
Paris is a city of tremendous beauty, and yet the tunnels beneath the city hold a unique beauty of their own. If you love to explore the mysteries of the world, the catacombs should definitely be on your bucket list of destinations to visit.
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