JWG (jwg) wrote,
JWG
jwg

The Catacombs of Paris

After leaving the tombs of St Denis, to complete the theme we went to the Catacombs. There is an interesting history here - explained inside. Millions of years ago the Paris plains were flooded with sea water and this help in the generation of limestone. In the 12th century they started mining the limestone to use as building materials and they did it mostly by digging a huge network of tunnels. In 1780 some walls next to a cemetery collapsed and they decided to move the bones to somewhere. Conveniently there were these tunnels. They started doing this for other cemeteries - partly to make more land available for building. A consequence of these tunnels is that foundations of building are restricted which is another reason for few tall buildings in Paris. After a few years they decided instead of just stacking the bones haphazardly they would do it more artistically and allow tours through it.

To my recollection when I visited them about 50 years ago you walked through with candles. Now there are electric lights, lots of signs and plenty of tourists but not enough for it to feel at all crowded. It was an interesting place to visit, and as it turns out it was the last official place we visited on this trip.

Click here for pictures:
ParisCatacombsFlickrSet
Tags: france, paris2013, travel
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