I have never been to the grand catacombs under Paris, but I would love to go.
There is something mysterious about an underground maze of that sort, a spooky allure. Granted, it helps that in Paris, the catacombs also serve as a mass grave for millions. There’s a story to tell in such a labyrinth, and it both appeals to my adventurous side while terrifies the six-year-old in me. I remember seeing trailers for a horror movie based in the catacombs a few years ago, but in my wild imagination, it could be black magic.
I know the truth. I know that the Paris catacombs are the result of collapsing underground tunnels and overflowing cemeteries. But that’s hardly interesting, compared to the wide possibilities of the imagination. Even little details, like the fact the entrance to the catacombs is located near a landmark called “Barrière d’Enfer“, translating to “Gate of Hell”, make it an eerie landmark. The bones of the city were built from these limestone mines, and the bones of its people line within.
Like everything in Paris, the catacombs are a work of art. Rather than a disorganized mass grave, the ossuary has been designed carefully. More than two hundred years after the catacombs were first built, they still stand strong and nearly untouched by the years. Isn’t it incredible the things we can create with something as ordinary as mine tunnels and as gruesome as human bones?
The catacombs themselves run 2 kilo under the city, and there’s more to them than the bones. The Paris catacombs house sculptures and other artistic structures as well along their path. I can’t wait to see them someday – definitely a bucket list item.
“Underground.” – Daily Post, Oct. 19. 2016