The existence of the catacombs below Paris is due to two problems that Parisians were facing simultaneously in the late 18th century: 1. Paris’s oldest and largest graveyard, the Cemetery of the Innocents, was literally overflowing with dead people, causing serious health concerns; and 2. The old abandoned limestone quarries under Paris, which had been mined since the times of Roman occupation, began to cave in, bringing sections of the city down into the Earth. King Louis XVI sent men down to map out the system of tunnels below Paris, and to reenforce their walls to prevent future collapses. At the same time, the King also ordered the closing and evacuation of the Cemetery of the Innocents, and determined that the abandoned quarries, having recently been opened and mapped, would be the ideal place to store the displaced bones.
There are actually still sections of the catacombs available to the public in Paris. It’s a sort of tourist attraction, and i visited them when I was in Paris. They are definitely long and elaborate tunnels, and there are sections that are closed off to the public for safety reasons. The entire structure is creepy to be around as well.
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