The Paris Catacombs

My trip to Paris took me through some dark twists and turns and a few morbid corners. None more so than the catacombs deep under the streets of the city, where the bones of six million Parisians lie stacked up. It’s a mind-boggling number, is six million. There’s a whole Jewish holocaust’s worth of former city inhabitants there, the remains almost decoratively arranged.

Each and every one of them was a person with a life, with a story to tell. I did wonder, as I looked into the sockets of a few skulls, who they were, what they did and what was the final affliction that sent them down here? There’s so many of them though. You soon stop wondering, and start to understand the logic behind Stalin’s theory of what makes a tragedy and what adds up to a statistic.

The bones are stacked in just a small corner of the catacombs. Apparently they account for only 1/800th of the space available. That means there’s almost enough room left for the entire global population. The catacombs exist for a simple reason. All that stone in the buildings above the streets had to come from somewhere. I have more photos on Flickr, and not just of skulls. There were some very cool rock carvings down there too.

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