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Paris Catacombs : A Strange World Beneath The City

Paris Catacombs : A Strange World Beneath The City

Paris Catacombs are one of the city's most popular attractions, and certainly its most haunting. There are an estimated 300 kilometres of tunnels beneath Paris, excavated for the limestone used in the fine buildings up above. An area of this subterranean labyrinth was used for thirty years from the end of the 18th century as the final resting place of over six million Parisians. Today you can visit this fascinating underworld. From the Hotel Royal Cardinal you can take Metro line 6 and be ready to plunge into the catacombs in less than thirty minutes.

Paris Catacombs: Tunnels and crypts beneath the streets

By the 10th century, many of the parish cemeteries of Paris had become overcrowded. As the city and its population grew it was difficult to find land to use for burial purposes. Large burial grounds outside the city were a solution, but the problem of overcrowding within the boundaries still had to be addressed.

A man called Alexandre Lenoir suggested that the abandoned mining tunnels beneath Paris should be used as a sort of municipal ossuary. From 1786 to 1788 the skeletal remains were exhumed and transferred to their new resting place, a process performed with the greatest possible dignity and respect. The bones were carefully, tastefully, even artistically arranged along the walls of the labyrinth, along with tombstones and other funerary decorations.

Thus was built a mausoleum which could be visited by the relatives of the deceased. However, the atmospherically haunting macabre majesty of the place seized the imagination of all who went there, and in the 19th century these tunnels gradually became a visitor attraction, the catacombs managed by the city council and now incorporated since January 1, 2013 in the public institution Paris Musées. Today you can receive a guided tour along 2 kilometres of these catacombs; a unique and enthralling experience.

The Hotel Royal Cardinal recommends the Paris Catacombs

Our comfortable and stylish hotel on the Left Bank of the Seine is ideally situated for visiting the major Paris landmarks. We at the Hotel Royal Cardinal suggest you allow a good ninety minutes for visiting the Paris Catacombs.

 

Picture copyright holder : Passion Leica - Flickr.com

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