History of the Paris Catacombs

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If history has taught us anything, it’s that sickness and war are inevitable. Europe, in particular, is a place with a long history of battles, illness, and high death tolls. In my last post, I mentioned King Louis XIV had constantly raged war and accumulated debt for France. What happens when war, famine, and illness strike a city? Death and overpopulated graves. Explore the history of what lies below the Parisian streets for a bone-chilling experience.

The Beginning:
From 1763-1786 rancid smells, shallow graves, and washed up bodies plagued the city of Paris. Overcrowded burial sites were at the root of the problem. Angered by the disgusting state of the city people began to complain about the conditions. The complaints gained the attention of French sovereigns King Louis XIV and his successor Louis XVI.

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The Solution:
In 1780 jarring rain caused bodies to resurface from their shallow graves. The need for an immediate solution led to moving bodies to the underground tunnels of the city. Over six million bones were dug up and placed in the Catacombs.

French Revolution:
In 1789 the French Revolution began. The bodies of hundreds of fallen soldiers and citizens were put to rest underground. Maximilien Robespierre, a leader of the reign of terror, is one of the most famous inhabitants of the Catacombs buried in 1794.

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The End of the Underground:
In 1860 France finished relocating the bones of their dead and ceased burying its people underground for good. The underground tunnels opened for public viewing just seven years later in 1867. Currently, out of the 200 miles of tunnels only a mile of the Catacombs is open to the public.

Did you find this interesting or helpful? Planning a visit to Catacombs? Let’s chat in the comments below!

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