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Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Catacombs of Paris

Catacombs of ParisImage via Wikipedia

By Pollux Parker

Not all of the attractions in Paris are found above ground, underneath the city streets is one composed of labyrinth-like tunnels and crypts called The Catacombs of Paris. Around 6 million people are buried in the catacombs and it occupies a portion of what used to be Paris' stone mines.

It has been a tradition of Parisians during Roman times to bury their dead on city limits. However, when Christianity came it influenced them to bury their deceased in consecrated ground. When some of the cemeteries became congested, improper funeral methods were employed leading to the contamination of the water and land close to the cemeteries. This in turn resulted to the spread of diseases to the nearby locals. When church burials can only be paid by the rich, The Cemetery of the Innocent was opened for common burials. Used for nearly ten centuries, the cemetery had become the source of infection for residents of the area. The Council of State then decided to remove the bones in the cemetery and move them to another location.
The process of removing the bones was always carried out at night. Black veils cover the tipcarts that were used to carry the bones. The whole process was not without the blessing of the church. The removal and transfer of the bones was undertaken in accordance with a ceremony that is made up priests forming a procession while singing the burial service.
The Catacombs are not only a tourist attraction but it also has historical value. During World War II, members of the French Resistance made use of it when they were concealing themselves from the Germans, and a section of the tunnels were utilized by the Germans as a bunker.
While the Catacombs is one of the sites worth seeing while in the city, it is important to bear in mind that the attraction is a maze of tunnels that should be visited with the help of experienced guides. The Catacombs are open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00am to 5:00pm with the last admission at 4:00pm.
Pollux Parker is an adventurer who loves discovering secret island getaways in each country he visits. Pollux also likes to collect French Flag and buy inexpensive French Flag.

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