Paris catacombs are famous underground tunnels, historically used as a burial place, located south of the the ancient entrance gate (“Barrière d’Enfer“) to the city.
As a tourist attraction, the catacombs in Paris, officially “l’Ossuaire Municipal“, contain a rebuilt part with…
- rooms, and
…originally left unused from limestone excavations in Paris.
First time the tunnels were opened to visitors was in 18th century, and since then, they have become a very popular Paris attraction, especially from 19th century onwards.
PHOTO: A section at the catacombs, with a placate providing some background information: “Bones from the former Magdeleine cemetery (La Ville Leveque Street no. 1 and 2). Deposited in 1844 in the western ossuary and transferred to the catacombs in September 1859.”
The most famous part of the tunnel complex is within the catacomb cemetery, within a section called “les carrières de Paris“.
These catacombs have an interesting history, as over time, towards the late 18th century, cemeteries in Paris started to fill up, and Parisian officials started to look for new places to bury the dead.
They found such a place from the former limestone excavations in Paris, just south of the city’s main gate.
Transfer of the dead from the Paris cemeteries to the tunnels began in 1786, with the process taking years to complete.
Initially, the catacombs were intended to be just a storage place for the bones…but since 1810, as the tunnels were rebuilt, the place became a mausoleum, where bones and the skulls had been systematically arranged.
To visit the catacombs, you’ll find the main entrance from the former west wing to the historical Barrière d’Enfer city gate.
From that entrance, you’ll descent about 19 meters (62 feet) down via spiral stairs.
From there, the journey continues through a long underground hall, towards the entrance portal to the cemetery…which contains a warning…
“Arrête, c’est ici l’empire de la Mort”
(“Stop, This is the Empire of the Dead”)
You can tour the catacombs with a route that has a length of about 1.7 km (a little over 1 mile)…taking about 45 minutes to go through.
Address: 1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris
Official website: Catacombes-de-Paris.fr
Although the route distance, around 1 mile, sounds long, it is only a small fraction of the total size of the tunnels. The entire network has been said to contain over 300 km (186 miles) of tunnels.