In Paris, what was originally a quarry for mining building materials has become something much more fascinating. I honestly knew noting about the catacombs before we went on the tour, Daryle got us signed up. It turned out to be a really interesting experience.
In the 1700’s, the ground under Paris looked like Swiss cheese and they started having issues with buildings collapsing. They have shored up some of the tunnels by building walls and filled others in, but you’ll notice that buildings in central Paris still don’t go above 8 stories.
When the religion was no longer outlawed, people started burying their dead instead of burning them, so suddenly they needed space to bury a lot of bodies. In a stroke of genius someone decided the center of Paris was the best place for a new centrally located cemetery. Called the Cemetery of Innocents, this area eventually took in so many bodies that there were some problems.
In 1785 the cemetery was deemed full and closed. At this point there were bodies piled 6 meters above street level. Yep, I’d say it was full. Obviously there were quite a few health and safety issues here (the largest market in the city was located just outside the cemetery…) and there are some pretty disgusting stories your tour guide will be happy to tell you should you get the chance to visit. To fix the problems, they decided to take all these “above ground” bodies and stack them in the tunnels under the city.