Catacombs of Paris France, Paris

Catacombs of Paris

The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries in Paris, France, which hold the remains of more than two million people in a small part of the ancient Mines of Paris tunnel network. Extending south from the former city gate Barrière d’Enfer ("Gate of Hell") beneath Rue de la Tombe-Issoire, the ossuary was founded when city officials had two simultaneous problems: a series of cave-ins beginning 1774, and overflowing cemeteries, particularly Saint Innocents. Nightly processions of bones from 1786 to 1788 transferred remains from cemeteries to the reinforced tunnels, and more remains were added during later years. The underground cemetery became a tourist attraction on a small scale from the early 19th century, and has been open to the public on a regular basis since 1874 with surface access from a building at Place Denfert-Rochereau in the extreme southern part of the city of Paris.

The Catacombs are among the 14 City of Paris Museums managed by Paris Musées since January 1, 2013. The catacombs are known formally as l'Ossuaire Municipal or Catacombes officiels and have been called "The World's Largest Grave" due to the number of remains buried. Although the ossuary comprises only a small section of the underground "carrières de Paris" ("quarries of Paris"), Parisians presently often refer to the entire tunnel network as "the catacombs".

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