You may think that the only difference between the Paris Catacombs and Rome Catacombs are who’s buried in them. However, there are many 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.
To Tour or Not to Tour
When travelling, time can be limited, so you always want to make the most of your time. Going with a tour guide can definitely help to maximize your time. Check out our the Best Paris tours while in Paris and also the Best Rome tours when in the eternal city. Tours are definitely not for everyone and we totally respect the DIY group, but if you like tours, check them out!
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 cemeteries originating in the 2nd Century BCE. Since Christianity was illegal at this time, many early Christians were martyred close to these sites and their graves remain there today.
There was the belief among Christians at the time, that when the second coming arrived, the closer they were to the saints, the quicker they would go to heaven, so it was very popular to be buried as close as possible to the tombs of known saints at the time.
What’s the Difference?
The biggest difference is age- The Paris Catacombs became burial sites in the 17th century whereas the Roman Catacombs are dating back to Ancient Roman Times. 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.
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.
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.
I Want More Tours!
- If you want us to arrange the entertainment in Europe, contact our Trip Planning Team to coordinate an unforgettable experience.
- Not sure what to do in Paris? Check out our step-by-step guide about how to do Paris in a Day. If you’d rather let us guide you, check out our Paris tours.
- Check out our YouTube video about how to do Rome in a Day. If you’d rather let us guide you, check out our Rome tours.
- Follow our adventures in Europe on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Then, comment and tell us what you want us to cover next.