You may think that the only difference between the Paris and Rome Catacombs are who’s buried in them. However, there are a lot of differences that go into making each of these underground burial sites so unique. Though they share many similarities, each is glorified for its own history and characteristics. In this guide discover the difference between the Rome and Paris Catacombs and how you can explore both fascinating burial sites with us.
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Known as the ‘World’s Largest Grave’, the 17th century underground tunnels were put into use when all of Paris’ cemeteries started to overflow and get overcrowded. What were once mines stretching for miles underneath Paris, now holds an estimated six million dead bodies throughout its tunnels. The Paris Catacombs are just south of the “Barrière d’Enfer” (A.K.A – Gates of Hell) and after descending into the tunnels you will experience the eerie-ness and mystery that is the Paris Catacombs.
The Rome Catacombs are a 17th-century ossuary that was once one of Ancient Rome’s earliest and most important roads. This now underground grave site is one of the most mysterious places in Rome; yet, one of the least visited. The Rome Catacombs is home to the Capuchin Crypts, the Domitilla Catacombs, the Appian Way and the Aurelian Walls.
What’s the Difference?
As you can see, there are quite a few similarities that both catacomb sites share. Both were put to use in the 17th century with their main purpose to be vessels for those who are buried within. Which brings me to the most important difference between the two; who is buried in each?
The Paris Catacombs were simply suggested because the cemeteries in Paris at the time were overflowing. Since death is inevitable, authorities needed to find a place to bury those who were passing and needing to find it fast. The people who are buried in the Paris Catacombs are the same people who were buried in the overstuffed grave sites. Among those who were moved into the catacombs lies Jean-Paul Marat and Maximilien de Robespierre. It took 12 years to move all of the bodies and bones to their final resting place.
The Rome Catacombs are a bit more sacred they were constructed to be a Christian Catholic burial site. Unlike the Paris Catacombs, the Rome Catacombs are religious sites. If you plan to visit, both men and women must be wearing clothing that covers their knees and shoulders. Aside from the Domitilla Catacombs, the site is also divided into five chapels called the “Capuchin Crypts”.
Each Crypt is decorated with remains that correspond to what the Crypt’s title is. The five Crypts are: Crypt of the Resurrection, Crypt of the Skulls, Crypt of the Pelvises, Crypt of the Leg Bones and Thigh Bones and Crypt of the Three Skeletons. For example, the Crypt of the Pelvises is adorned with mostly pelvises and the Crypt of the Skull is adorned entirely out of skulls. Though, all crypts feature a full skeleton or two, the main display of the Crypts are supposed to match whatever title it has.
The Rome Catacombs also includes the Domitilla Catacombs, which are an elaborate maze of underground tunnels stretching for miles just 15 minutes outside of Rome. Similar to the Paris Catacombs, The Domitilla Catacombs were constructed because there was also a shortage in burial space in Rome. Although, the Domitilla Catacombs only hold about 150,000 remains and bodies.
While the Domitilla Catacomb has the second-century fresco ‘The Last Supper’ living in it; the labyrinths of the Paris Catacombs are actually covered with graffiti and the infamous artists are known as, ‘The Underground Art Rebels’. However, both underground graves are adorned with bones, inscriptions, artworks, artifacts and beautiful architecture that pay homage to those who are buried in these underground vessels.
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