Catacombs of Paris
The clickable maps and pictures within this page show data about Catacombs of Paris. The Catacombs of Paris or Catacombes de Paris is an underground ossuary in Paris, France. Located south of the former city gate (the "Barrière d'Enfer" at today's Place Denfert-Rochereau), the ossuary holds the remains of about six million people and fills a renovated section of caverns and tunnels that are the remains of Paris's stone mines. Opened in the late 18th century, the underground cemetery became a tourist attraction on a small scale from the early 19th century, and has been open to the public on a regular basis from 1874. Following an incident of vandalism, they were closed to the public in September 2009 and reopened 19 December of the same year.
The official name for the catacombs is l'Ossuaire Municipal. Although this cemetery covers only a small section of underground tunnels comprising "les carrières de Paris" ("the quarries of Paris"), Parisians today often refer to the entire tunnel network as "the catacombs".
Paris' earliest burial grounds were to the southern outskirts of the Roman-era Left Bank city. In ruins after the Roman empire's 5th-century fall and the ensuing Frankish invasions, Parisians eventually abandoned this settlement for the marshy Right Bank: from the 4th-century, the first known settlement there was on higher ground around a Saint-Etienne church and burial ground (behind today's Hôtel de Ville), and Right Bank urban expansion began in earnest after other ecclesiastical landowners filled in the marshlands from the late 10th century. Thus, instead of burying its dead away from inhabited areas as per usual human customs, Paris' Right Bank settlement began its life with cemeteries at its very centre.
The most central of these cemeteries, a burial ground around the 5th-century Notre-Dame-des-Bois church, became the property of the Saint-Opportune parish after the original church was destroyed by the 9th-century Norman invasions. When it became its own parish under the 'Saints Innocents' church from 1130, this burial ground, filling the land between today's rue Saint-Denis, rue de la Ferronnerie, rue de la Lingerie and the rue Berger, had become the City's principal cemetery.