The world is full of beautiful cities. Some cities fascinate people with their natural beauties. Some cities have thousands of years of deep-rooted histories and traditions. Paris, the capital of France, is one of the cities with a deep-rooted history. In addition, Paris has been one of the most important art centers in the world for hundreds of years. Paris is a very important place for many branches of art, from literature to cinema, from sculpture to architecture. However, Paris has other interesting and even spooky features! The “catacombs” built in the 18th century make the capital of art the center of horror at the same time! The Paris Catacombs consist of tunnels hundreds of meters long, mysterious labyrinths and thousands of corpses… The reason for the emergence of these catacombs is quite extraordinary. Paris, as always, was a very important metropolis in the 18th century. However, the death rates in the city were very high. The city’s cemeteries were littered with the corpses of Parisians.
The crowded population of the city caused epidemic diseases, epidemic diseases caused deaths, and deaths caused more deaths. Paris could not find a place to bury their dead! Because of this, the stench of corpses in the city had become unbearable! However, the solution was not far away. The rulers of Paris decided to turn the tunnels used for mining under the city for many years into a cemetery! Thus, the corpses were carried underground from their graves on earth. These tunnels were expanded over time for different reasons. Thus, it was used not only as a cemetery, but also for different purposes. At times, it has become an important and terrifying tourist attraction. At other times, it was used as a shelter by Parisian insurgents. For hundreds of years, people who had to go underground for different reasons stayed in this scary cemetery! Here are 11 things you need to know about the Paris Catacombs…
1. Parisian Jews hid in the Paris Catacombs
Thanks to the Great Mosque in Paris! The Great Mosque of Paris was built in 1926 for the Muslim community living in Paris. This mosque, about 10 years later, would open its doors to another community. The Nazis, who occupied Paris since 1940, were systematically murdering the Jews in the city! Many people were not doing anything for the lives of Parisian Jews. But Si Kaddour Benghabrit, one of the leaders of the Muslim community of the time, was trying to do his best for Parisian Jews. The Great Mosque of Paris was built over the Paris Catacombs. For this reason, Parisian Jews were passing through the Great Mosque and descending into the catacombs. They were hiding here until their fake identities and safe escape facilities were available.
2. It took 11 years to find a man who disappeared in the tunnels in 1793!
The Paris Catacombs have hosted many intruders since the day they were built. Unfortunately, some intruders never left the catacombs! The man named Philibert Aspairt was one of these intruders. Asparit entered the catacombs in 1793 and no one saw Asparit alive again. The unfortunate man’s body was found exactly 11 years later, in 1804! Moreover, it is very close to the exit point of the tunnels… Philibert Aspairt was only one of dozens of examples who lost their way or even their lives in the Paris Catacombs.
3. Paris Catacombs, II. Used by French resistance fighters during World War II
In 1938, two doctors, Jean Talairach and René Suttel, began exploring and mapping hundreds of meters of tunnels. Because the Catacombs of Paris consisted of many labyrinths and secret burial chambers. About 3 years later, when Paris was occupied by the Nazis, two doctors gave the map they had carefully prepared to the resisters! Thus, the Paris Catacombs became a place where Parisian insurgents could hide safely and without losing their way. On the other hand, just like the insurgents, the invaders also used the catacombs.
4. The first tourists to the tombs were members of the royal family!
Of course, the Catacombs of Paris were not built as a tourist attraction. However, people have made this spooky place a major attraction. Especially royalty. The future King of France, Charles X, visited the catacombs in 1787 with his royal family! They even organized a picnic here! In 1809, the Paris Catacombs were opened to the public. However, only special people could visit this terrible place. In 1874, however, the catacombs became easier to visit. Thus, many people had the opportunity to see this interesting and frightening place. On the other hand, royalty or important rulers of different countries have also visited the tombs over the years.
5. Tunnels were not originally used as tombs
The Paris Catacombs initially served different purposes. In fact, the tunnels in which the burials were made date from the 15th century and were used as stone mines for structures in Paris. However, there were huge mushroom farms in the tunnels! Because the humidity and heat ratio in the tunnels was very suitable for growing mushrooms!
6. A cinema was discovered in the Catacombs in 2004
The Catacombs of Paris are visited by a large number of people, either formally or unofficially. Informal visits have different purposes. Some criminals try to hide in the tunnels even today. Some are building an art gallery in the catacombs. Whoever people’s purpose is to make this scary place a little joyful! The cinema, which was found in the catacombs in 2004, is one of the best examples of this! The cinema system found by the police was in working condition. Also in the tomb were ingredients for cooking, armchairs, and a large film library.
7. The Catacombs of Paris are a favorite of thieves
And not just for hiding! These tombs, meters below Paris, naturally pass under many buildings. In 2017, a group of thieves broke into a wine cellar located directly above the catacombs. The thieves, who managed to enter the garden of the cellar after their feverish work underground, stole 300 bottles of champagne worth 300,000 dollars from here.
8. More corpses in graves than people living in Paris
This information may seem extremely interesting, but it is true! It is estimated that 6 million people have been buried since the day it was opened in the catacombs! The number of people living in Paris today is less than 3 million. In other words, there are roughly twice as many people under Paris as above it.
9. There is a special name given to people who sneak around in the catacombs
To visit this interesting and creepy place, all you need to do is buy a ticket from the visitor entrance and proceed towards the tunnels at the designated times. However, a very small part of the tombs and tunnels are open to visitors. That’s why people called “Katafil” are illegally entering the tunnels and enjoying this horrible place! According to a statement made by a “Katafil”, the number of Katafils reaches hundreds of thousands! These people do activities ranging from partying in the catacombs to walking their dogs.
10. The tombs are frequented by some artists
Especially painting and sculpture artists! Some painters use the walls of the Paris Catacombs as canvases! Especially many paintings made with glow-in-the-dark paints adorn the walls of the tunnels. On the other hand, some sculpture artists are exhibiting their new works here.
11. Graves are also the most popular place for illegal entertainment.
Partying among millions of corpses may seem interesting. But for many Parisians, the Paris Catacombs are one of the best places to have fun! The tombs host a lot of thematic entertainment, especially at special times like Halloween.