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Located 20 metres beneath the ground in the heart of the French capital, the Catacombs are a veritable labyrinth. All of the bones in the ossuary are from collection and transfer between the end of the 18th century and the middle of the 19th century when Paris’s cemeteries were closed down.

 

The reason for the mass closure was principally the Holy Innocents’ Cemetery (Cimetière des Innocents). Situated close to St. Eustache Church in the First District of Paris, the cemetery was spreading infection to people living in the surrounding neighbourhood, so the State Council of 1785 decided to move all bones and remains from the cemetery to the old Parisian quarries, the site that has now become the Catacombs of Paris. Other cemeteries soon followed suit.

 

For several hundred metres, bones lie in piles along the galleries. Skulls, tibias and femurs, all arranged in lines and classed by cemetery, provide a lugubrious spectacle to onlookers.

 

Opening hours:

Tuesday - Sunday: 10am - 8:30pm

Closed on Mondays and some national holidays.

The Catacombs are open on July 14, November 1 and November 11.

 

photo carte de paris, les catacombes