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Catacombs of Paris

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One of the oddest and eeriest museums in Paris is the Catacombs Museum also known as the Empire of the Dead. This museum is home to approximately 6 million people whose skulls and bones are piled up in stacks, some over 1.5 metres high and 24 metres deep, in an incredibly vast array of tunnels and caves that span some 300 km and 20 metres below ground level that were formerly used a limestone mines.

While there is easy access to reach the Paris Catacombs in the 14 th arrondissement of Paris by public transport, the access in order to reach the depths of the ossuary can be challenging to those people who have physical limitations. Thus this museum is only recommended for people who are able to walk the 130 steps down to the first section of the Catacombs, walk the approximately 1.5 km length of the museum and exit by climbing 83 more steep steps back up to ground level. This museum is also only recommended to people who aren't claustrophobic in enclosed areas, particularly while walking past hordes of human bones. Furthermore, this museum might not be advisable for smaller children, and an adult must accompany children under the age of 14 in order to enter the museum.

The Paris Metro and RER station Denfert-Rochereau is right across from the museum. The Metro Lines #4, #6 and RER Line B all serve this station. The Catacombs is also close to the Cimitiere du Montparnasse (Montparnasse Cemetery), which along with the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, are popular tourist attractions due to the number of notable people who are buried at those respective locations.

If you are able to visit the Catacombs Museum, first opened to the public in 1810, you will have the opportunity to visit a museum possibly like no other museum you have ever seen. You can expect to see a queue when you first arrive, primarily because only 200 people are allowed within the Catacombs at one time. But you shouldn't have to wait too long to pay your small fee and enter the creepy setting well below ground level.

The Catacombs of Paris date back to the end of the 18 th century in 1785, just as the French Revolution began to take hold. It was created to ease congestion and make the streets more sanitary because the existing graveyards of the period were getting overcrowded due to the ever-expanding city. Some of the older cemeteries in the city such as the Cimitiere des Innocents, the oldest and largest cemetery in Paris, were in disrepair and some of the decomposing corpses were exposed from damage of the structures they were housed in, and thus created diseases that spread to the living Parisians, many of whom perished. In 1786 all of the bodies in the Cimitiere des Innocents were removed and transported to the Catacombs.

After you reach the floor level of the Catacombs, strewn lights and barriers will guide you on your walk through the piles upon piles of skulls, and bones, creating a very ghastly image and laughably, a very good photo opportunity.

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