Tourist Sights The Catacombs in Paris France

About the unique tourist sight the Catacombs in Paris, France, location, description, and history of the site.




Sight: The Catacombs.

Catacombs are found in several cities throughout the world, but those in Paris are the world's largest and eeriest. At the entrance on the Left Bank, as if in warning, a sign reads: "Stop, this is the realm of the dead." Deep within, the bones of an estimated 6 million people are stacked up against the 2,700 ft. of catacomb walls. Many are arranged systematically, often in the shape of a cross, with skulls on the walls above them. Though your tour covers only a small part of the total area of this underground cemetery, you will store up enough macabre memories to last you a lifetime. If you're squeamish, better skip a visit here altogether. Formed by excavations during Gallo-Roman times, the catacombs were originally a series of vast underground quarries. The first bones were brought to them from abandoned cemeteries in 1786. Many victims of the French Revolution and later of the infamous Bloody Week in which the Paris Commune was suppressed were also laid to rest here. On Apr. 1, 1897, as a joke, 50 musicians gave a concert in the depths of the tombs. The program, carefully planned for the occasion, included Saint-Saens's Danse Macabre, the Funeral March from Beethoven's Eroica, and Chopin's Funeral March. During W.W. II, the French resistance movement established its headquarters here.

Location: Under the Left Bank. The main entrance is at 2 Place Denfert-Rochereau.

Seeing It: Open the first and third Saturdays of the month at 2:00 P.M. from Oct. 16 through June 30; every Saturday at 2:00 P.M. from July 1 through Oct. 15; closed on Saturday holidays. Each visitor is given a candle to light the way through the underground corridors.

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