Skull Catacombs: 6 million skeletons in Paris?
Paris, City of lights
Almost everyone knows Paris as the "City of Lights", a world center of art, fashion, culture, and love, although some recent events have tarnished this image somewhat. In any case, it is different under the surface of the city: a network of dark tunnels filled with human skulls and bones, those of 6 million Parisians.
Paris is a city that took advantage of the industrial boom to grow further, attracting more and more people from outside its walls, but it was then suffering from many problems. Among those it faced, like many other cities in the same situation of development, were diseases. And the number of deaths was increasing almost exponentially because of the ever-growing population. Towards the end of the 18th century, this situation finally led to overcrowded cemeteries.
One of the largest Parisian cemeteries of the 1700s, the Innocents, had become a place where the foul odours of decomposing bodies were no longer bearable as the soil was unable to cope with the demand caused by the overcrowding of the city.
Bones from the old Magdeleine Cemetery (Leviticus Street Nos. 1 and 2) Deposited in 1844 in the Western Ossuary and transferred to the catacombs in September 1859.
When the deads invade the city
The smell was so bad that according to the writings, local perfumers had trouble selling their products. By May 1780, the cemetery was literally full to bursting point. A little anecdote: a cellar wall of a property bordering the cemetery opened under the pressure of excessive burials and spring rains, causing a flood of half-decomposed bodies and disease.
Within a few months, the authorities ordered the closure of the Innocents (a place in Paris) and other cemeteries in the city. No more bodies could then be buried in the capital. With the threat to public health still imminent, the city also decided to remove the contents of the existing cemeteries.
This is where an "effective" plan surfaced. It should be noted that the city once housed a number of old mines and quarries, which was perfect for an underground ossuary to store the deads and there skulls. Between 1787 and 1814 (for the most part) bones were placed in the depths of the mines.
Art or cemetery ?
The entrance was built just outside the old city gate, the aptly named Hell Gate. While the skeletons were initially piled up randomly in the quarries, they were eventually placed in an orderly and more aesthetic manner, as you can see below
Among the 6 million skulls remains in the ossuary are dozens of characters from French history, including many decapitated figures from the French Revolution, such as Georges Danton and Maximilien de Robespierre, as well as famous artists such as Charles Perrault, known for writing fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty.
The catacombs of Paris are 20 meters below the streets, and about 1.5 kilometers from the ossuary can still be visited. Since 1955, it has been illegal to venture into forbidden galleries, but it is known that thrill-seekers plunge deeper into the maze through hidden entrances.
We hope that this article has taught you something about a tourist site that is so well known but whose history is terrifying.
If you like the catacombs, I invite you to hang this unique skull catacomb clock in your room, it lights up at night!
If you prefer jewelry, I am sure you will love this luxury silver catacomb bracelet