History of the catacombs of Paris

The catacombs of Paris continue to fascinate and attract many visitors every day. Yet, few dwell on his remarkable and mysterious history that dates back to the late eighteenth century.

A graveyard become home to various infections The name given to this ossuary pays tribute to the Catacombs of Rome. Originally, these were simple quarries used to build houses and buildings in the French capital. They begin at the Jardin des Plantes and extend to Saint-Michel, Saint-Jacques and part of the Faubourg Saint-Germain. The Innocents Cemetery, located near Saint-Eustache in the Les Halles district, has been used for hundreds of years. Ultimately, it was only a source of infection for the surrounding population. The multiple complaints led the Council of State to remove and evacuate the cemetery on a decree dated November 9, 1785. To store the bones, the city of Paris decided to requisition old quarries: the same that served to erect the buildings of the capital. Thus, the careers of the Tombe-Issoire have been the subject of important work: masonry, retaining galleries and digging a staircase and a well. The infrastructure was therefore intended to accommodate the bones of the cemetery Innocents.

The bones were moved in 1786

At the end of the work, the bones were moved to these places which received blessing and consecration on April 7, 1786. The translation of the remains was made at nightfall and lasted until 1788. Priests in surplices accompanied the body and sang the galley during the journeys of dumpers covered with black veil and full of bones. Subsequently, the old quarries were to receive the bones of all the other cemeteries of Paris until 1814. Since the day of their creation, the catacombs of Paris have aroused curiosity and mystery. In 1787, the Comte d’Artois, who was also the future Charles X, went down into the ossuary accompanied by several ladies of the court. The following year, the catacombs were visited by Madame de Guiche and Madame de Polignac. In 1814, the Emperor of Austria (François 1st) who resided in Paris visited them in his turn. Finally, Napoleon III and his son also descended there in 1860. Since then, the catacombs of Paris have become an unusual place visited by various personalities over the years.

Une attraction insolite de la ville de Paris

Depuis la création des catacombes, les visites se sont enchaînées. Si à une certaine époque seuls les rois, empereurs et aristocrates pouvaient y accéder, elles sont aujourd’hui ouvertes aux touristes du monde entier. Français comme étrangers font la queue chaque jour pour découvrir ces lieux singuliers et mystérieux. Les catacombes de Paris attirent aussi bien les curieux que les amateurs de sensations fortes. En effet, la visite permet d’observer une infinité de crânes et d’ossements superposés et formant de grandes structures. Le tout paraît encore plus effrayant et mystique lorsque l’on sait qu’il s’agit des corps de milliers de Parisiens qui jadis arpentaient les rues de la ville. Leur histoire devint commune lorsqu’ils furent tous transférés dans les anciennes carrières de Paris, devenues les célèbres catacombes que l’on connait maintenant. Sur les trois cents kilomètres de galeries creusées, seule une petite partie peut aujourd’hui être visitée.

Une autre facette de l’histoire des catacombes de Paris

Les catacombes de Paris ont aussi été le théâtre de films d’épouvante, mettant en scène des protagonistes et des manifestations au travers d’histoires fictives. Ces derniers n’ont fait que renforcer le caractère effrayant et inquiétant des anciennes carrières transformées en immense tombeau sous les rues de Paris.