The Paris Catacombs
The Key to Creepy
What could be more interesting than 6,000,000 skeletons buried underneath the streets of Paris?
In the late 18th century Paris had a major problem with its dead which were literally piling up everywhere. In 1776 Louis XVI (yes, the Louis who died by guillotine), put a project into motion that would solve the problem.
Two years prior, the ground caved in which reminded Parisians of a few hundred-year-old abandoned tunnel-system at the city limits. This system was created as early as the 14th or 15th centuries A.D. and was used to store the dead. Louis XVI decided that they could solve two problems at once. Move the bodies underground in an existing system and reinforce that system so it does not collapse again.
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The interesting part about this entire project has to do with the Catholic Church. Tampering with the dead is a real “no-no”. According to dogma, your body is extremely important to your journey into the after-life. Bodies had to be moved from Saint-Innocents cemetery to the underground ossuary under cover of darkness not to upset the community and church.
Imagine you went to visit Grandma-ma one day and her grave was gone with a note, “We’ve moved locations! You can find us stacked up with millions of other bodies in the Municipal Ossuary.” It would be quite upsetting but the powers at be needed to take action. The graves in Paris were overflowing and the city was getting larger.
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Today the Paris Catacombs are a booming tourist attraction welcoming over half a million visitors per year. Tickets sell out and the line wraps around the block (literally). This is thanks to a little bit of marketing on behalf of Louis XVI! When the catacombs were “consecrated” in 1786 they started calling them the “Paris Catacombs” instead of the “Municipal Ossuary”.