Haunted Catacombs of Paris

Posted on December 18, 2009
Skulls from the haunted catacombs of Paris

Skulls from the Catacombs of Paris

I’m sure everyone here has heard of the Catacombs of Paris. It is listed as one of the top 10 most haunted places in the world!

A brief history of the Catacombs:

The official name of the Catacombs is l’ossuaire municipal, the cemetery covers a small section of underground tunnels making up the “les carri�res de Paris ( ” The quarries of Paris ” ) the entire tunnel is referred to as ” The Catacombs “. Since the Roman times Paris buried its dead on the outskirts of the city. The rise of Christianity brought a change about the practice of burying the faithful dead in consecrated grounds and in adjoining churches.

With the city’s expansion in the 10th century, there were many cemeteries however with the population rise in Paris the cemeteries became overcrowded and expansion was not possible. At this time only the most wealthy could afford church burials, which in the 12th century led to the opening of a central burial ground. At the end of the same century people were dependant on the church St. Opportune near the central Paris district Les Halles the church was later renamed Saint Innocents under it’s own church and parish.

The common practice for burying the dead poorer people was mass inhumation. When an evacuation in one section of the cemetery was full, it would be covered over and another one made. Very few of the dead had coffins, more often a coffin would be used again for a next burial. The residues resulting from the decaying matter, a process accelerated chemically with the use of lime entered directly into the earth caused a serious problem for a city who relied on well water.

Skulls and bones in the Haunted Catacombs of Paris

Human skulls and bones in the Haunted Catacombs of Paris

Around the 17th century the conditions near and around Saints-Innocents were unbearable. Once a sought after cemetery for burial and a huge revenue for the church and parish, the church continued to bury even when the cemetery was overflowing. At that time the cemetery was lined with “charniers” , a place reserved for the bones of the deceased who were exhumed from the mass graves and had been there long enough that they were decomposing. When it was emptied it would be used again, but the earth had already been saturated with decomposing human remains.

Walls of Human bones

Walls of Human bones

It wasn’t until the late 18th century that the city decided to condemn all existing parish cemeteries and create three large suburban burial grounds on the outskirts of the city. Most of the reason that nothing was done about Paris’ burial practices was their lack of ideas of where to dispose of the dead who were exhumed. The government was looking into long abandoned� stone quarries around and in the city of Paris since 1777. Alexandre LENOIR, had the idea to use the empty underground tunnels, his successor , Thiroux DE CRONSE, chose the place to the south of Paris ” porte d’ Enfer ” and the transfer of the exhumed to the underground sepulture began in 1786. The same year on April 7th was the consecration ceremony, the bones were deposited in a wide dug well in the land and distributed throughout the caverns. Near the site they put up crosses, urns and necropolis memorabilia that they brought from the churches graveyards.

Painted Skull

Painted Skull

The first years the Catacombs were merely a bone repository. In 1810 Louis Etienne HERICART DE THURY, saw that they were renovated and transformed, the underground caverns became a real visible sepulture like a mausoleum,he directed the rearrangement of skulls and tibias into what we see in the Catacombs today, he also used tombstones and cemetery decorations to complete the wall of bones.

The Catacombs are open for guided tours. It is listed as one of the top 10 most haunted places in the world. Visitors have claimed that they were ” touched by unseen hands “, others claim to have had the sensation of being followed, cold spots in certain areas a few cases of hysterical breakdowns, a few others have claimed to have been strangled. With the disruption and disrespect of the dead, it’s now wonder the streets below Paris are haunted.

Haunted Paris Catacombs

Haunted Paris Catacombs

Written By: Karen M., Copyright 2009

Also of interest:

Catacombs of Paris Museum

Catacombs of Paris – Wikipedia




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Tags: Catacombs, France, L'ossuaire Municipal, Paris


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Comments

37 Responses to “Haunted Catacombs of Paris”
  1. DarStarr says:

    Karen my sweet!
    ANOTHER great, informative article!!! And you have impressed me yet again! You ROCK girl!

  2. Karen M. says:

    Thank-you DarStarr !

    I was going to visit there, but to be honest after hearing the tales of what happend to other visitors,,, I’m not sure if I will go now!

    • Caretaker says:

      I think it would be great to be able to visit the catacombs. I wonder if they allow tourists to carry cameras in there?

      • Chris says:

        I visited the Catacombs in 2007. They did not prohibit cameras, but they did not allow picture taking. There were people in the tour group that took pictures anyway.

  3. Karen M. says:

    CT,

    I think I heard somewhere that they don’t , the Catacombs have been closed since September of this year, due to vandalisim……..to an unknowen time!

    • Caretaker says:

      Karen – Here is a pic I found which gives a hint at some of the vandalism.

      Catacombs of Paris Vandalism

      • Vzy4kat6387 says:

        I would assume that they let you go into the place with cameras. I mean what harm could it do?

        And people don’t know how to leave things well enough alone. There’s vandalism all over the place sadly. People just don’t know how to show respect for something that isn’t theres.

        I’ve seen people do it to. It makes things look so trashy. They must not lock the place up if people are getting in to spray paint a bunch of crap all over the walls.

  4. scarygirl67 says:

    Yay Karen! This article is awesome…and oh, so creepy! Those walls…part of me wants to visit and part of me wants to run far in the other direction.

    If there were any place that were truly haunted, it would seem to me that this would be it. Thank you for sharing the history of these catacombs.

  5. Karen M. says:

    Thanks SG,

    It does give an aura or creepy feelings, supposedly there was a maintence man stuck one night down in the Catacomb and he quit the next day……I don’t know if that is just a story or if it’s true, but he said he ” saw things down there.”

    Oh yes CT isn�t that terrible to do something like that, thank you so much for the pic , they don�t know when it will be reopened THANKS!

  6. Autumn says:

    I remember hearing some thing about, a part of the catocombs that if you dug through the pile of bones far enough you would find the gates to hell, and I also heard that a man whent missing down in there and a few people whent to look for him because they found his vido camra, I love your strory,

    • Emily says:

      i have been searching the internet for that place!! years ago i saw a man on tv….he jumped under a bridge when no one was around, walked down a grassy hill to an undergroud tunnel. yes, the pile of bones as the entry way to hell. he could stand on the pile and not sink, that is how full it is. they found a camera and it shows the owner of the camera dropping the camera and running away….no one believes me when i tell this story and i cant find any website talking about it

  7. Autumn says:

    http://www.eveandersson.com/photos/france/paris/401-catacombs-bones-large.jpg

    I remember one of my best friends mom, went to Paris and was told to stay away from the catacombs, becuse they were evil and laied at the bottom of the world,

  8. Karen M. says:

    Autumn,

    Interesting since ” porte de enfer” means the ” door to hell “! Yeah that was the watchman that ” supposedly dissapeared, thier are others that refuse to go down there too! Thanks!

    • Eileen says:

      I read somewhere that a whole school group got “lost’ permanently down there, I think it was in the book “The Biggest Secret”…creepy.

  9. Hossam Hamdy says:

    Hi Karen M.
    Very interesting article,the pictures of skulls & bones are very creepy, I wish if I can visit it
    It will be a great experience. I entered before inside the big pyramid in Egypt, I reached to the burial room.I t was also very interesting, I could feel with chilliness & the scent of history.Thanks for your sharing your story. ( Merci beaucoup ).

  10. trolldoll1681 says:

    it would be cool to go and see all the tunnels. its such a shame that people have so little respect for there ancestors. hopefully it will reopen soon. i have heard of people being lost and never seen again!! there’s a show that called cities of the underworld. i just can’t imagine how many bodies are down there from so many centuries ago. great post karen!!!

  11. DarStarr says:

    I don’t know if I could go down there. SO much death, and the thought of all those bones, those poor souls. Don’t think I am brave enough!!!!

  12. Autumn says:

    If you really think about the catacombs you’ll find out that it is mostly about keeping the ones who were brought there to stay, I was online looking at some videos about things like this and I heard a man from Paris say that the bodies were brought there to suffer for enternity, If I would to go into that evil place I would stay close to the exit, I also saw people crawling through the smallest places, this is kinda funny but one of them got stuck, :) dont worrie he got out a live, I am planning on visiting this place, also there is very few entrences of the catacombs most of them are blocked off so if you do go down there don’t lose your way, once your flash light goes dead your left in complete darkness, your story rules :)

  13. Karen M. says:

    Thank-you Hossam, Trolldoll , Autumn and DarStarr,

    I live 2 hours from Paris, in the center of France, I have always been interested in the Catacombs. If they do reopen soon, maybe this summer I’ll take a visit and let everyone know about it, I too like DarStarr don’t know if I can go down there either, I’m sensative and can feel when spirits are around, and I don’t want to freak out in front of a group of people..LOL

  14. Autumn says:

    If you do go down there please do not go far from the entrance! If you lose your way you might not find the way out again, bring plenty of food and water, be carful please do so. your story is very good, :)

  15. Jae says:

    OH WOW!!! I’ve heard of the Catacombs but never really read up on them. But that is insane!!! That is so sad but creepy as well. Karen, you gave me goosebumps! Great article, now I wanna go to Paris. :)

  16. Karen M. says:

    Thank-you Jae. I live not far from Paris, there are alot of haunted places especially the palace of Versailles!

  17. Jae says:

    How is it living out there? I would like to take a trip out there one day… I’m tired of where I’m living now LoL… I also want to travel to a few other places….

  18. mama's chick says:

    Interesting article Karen!
    I’m not surprised that it would have activity.. so sad to see all the deceased treated like that.. all stacked together.. on top of one another.. like a wall of stone.. no distinction between them..
    And for vandals to destroy it.. with no thought whatsoever.. no respect.. they should be ashamed of themselves!.
    Thanks for sharing with us hun!

    Mama’s chick

  19. Joe says:

    I’ve been there. You can’t really get lost. They have blocked off all the different ways you can go so basically you start at one end and walk to the other. No chance of getting lost or anything. It’s well lit and there are usually plenty of people as it’s a popular tourist site. It’s pretty eerie even still. I walked a bit of it alone and I definitely spooked myself. As for “doors to hell” I didn’t see any but you’re welcome to look for yourself. It’s really quite amazing just how many are down there, just when you think you’ve come to the end you turn a corner and there are more, all laid out in neat stacks just like the pictures. Many of the interesting sculptures made from the bones have been damaged by vandalism, which is a shame. You aren’t “allowed” to take pictures but everyone was and if you ask the guard nicely he’ll probably take one for you.

  20. Fancy says:

    The catacombs are still open to the public, they are not closed due to vandalism or anything else. You are allowed to take pictures, but you are not allowed to use a flash around the bones. If you haven’t been there, you should go!

  21. Naomi says:

    Funny how you are not allowed to take photos with a flash of decaying bones, i mean is it really going to hurt them considering they are in a damp cold tunnel? I did when i went down there and i was completly alone, apart from a couple of gaurds further down the track, it wasnt really that scary and im spooked easily the first part of the walk is nothing then boom you are surrounded by bones, Now ive never seen anything really freaky or unexplainable before in my life, but as i was looking around trying to take a good picture i noticed a blue neon ball or orb around the size of an orange floating around through the walls and then back out into the tunnel, back and forth etc, so i took a picture of it (i would have uploaded but i cant) the funny thing about it was that i couldnt see it with my naked eye only through my camera, it was kinda blocking my exit and i didnt want to walk past it or through it so i just stood there alone and waited for it to move, but i didnt feel threatened i was just like WOW check this out, my picture wasnt so good cos of the dark but you can still see what i saw, it happened around halfway through the tunnel walk, i would definitly go back their, becos there are not many places like that left in the world today, and i would say to anyone to go down and check it out you wont get lost all of the other tunnels to that tunnel are locked and there are lights, mind you the lights did go out when i was down there so take a tourch i just followed the lighting cables along the wall until they came back on it wasnt long. all i can really say about the place is that it is odd and you will feel alittle on edge about being ther.

  22. Danielle Blair says:

    i am so interested in the catacombs of france. i would be more then excited to take a trip down there. i live in canada, we dont have many interesting sites here. i think once i get the money im going to visit, and maybe see some activity!

  23. SomeoneUno says:

    Hi, thanks for posting this.
    I have been to the catacombes, and it is very scary but fun. i went in summer 2010.
    You are allowed to take pictures.
    They check your bag at the end for bones, people steal them. :(
    it is very cool, you should go!
    there are A LOT of stairs so if you cant do stairs, then be aware of this.
    I (sadly) have not seen a apparation there but had suddenly felt cold afterwards, when i got out, dispite the hot air.
    But be dressed warmly, it is REALLY cold and sometimes wet down there, and it is VERY big. also be prepared for a REALLLY long line.

  24. eileen says:

    Speaking of stealing bones….I was reading a normal international travelor blog written by a young guy who had lots of tips about world travel, how not to get ripped off, etc….NOTHING paranormal…BUT he did mention that he and his buddy stole some bones from the Paris catacombs…and the incredibly bad streak of luck they had …. until finally they snuck into a cemetary and buried them…robbery, friends dying suddenly from freak things, etc, etc….

  25. Ernest Grimmer says:

    I visited the catacombs with my friend the day before yesterday. We were both intrigued and a little scared but determined to experience the sensation of being twenty feet below the city with the remains of six million Parisiens.
    After walking down a very long spiral staircase we faced an equally long trek through a series of dimly lit tunnels in order to reach the entrance to the ossuary itself. A carved lintel greeted us with the inscription ‘Stop, Here Is the Empire of Death.’ With trepidation we passed through the doorway and into a long tunnel whose walls were lined completely with bones and skills. The sight was like nothing I had ever seen before, or will again. For a couple of seconds the shock rendered me speechless and I wondered whether I would be able to take a step further into Death’s Empire. I took a deep breath and followed my friend further down the tunnel and any fear seemed to melt away almost immediately. I was overcome by a sense of tranquility and I was astonished not to feel the presence of any souls at all. There was nothing, no sense of good or bad, no feelings of being watched or followed. If death is complete oblivion, I felt death, in terms of feeling nothing whatsoever.
    Being winter in Paris, there were very few tourists so we were virtually alone in the ossuary. This didn’t perturb us at all. We wandered around sometimes together and sometimes going off alone to investigate small alcoves or side rooms. I felt entirely happy and although it still surprises me to see this in writing, I think I could quite happily have spent some time down there alone without feeling scared or nervous.
    Both my friend and I agreed that our visit to the catacombs had been quite life affirming in that there was a real sense that those six million Parisiens had long moved onto somewhere else and that the remain left on earth were merely their shells.
    On chatting to the man who runs the cafe opposite the exit we were told that a stream of ghost hunters have visited the catacombs looking for some proof of spirits or pyschic activity but none of them have ever found anything which entirely mirrors our experience. I cannot recommend a visit to the catacombs highly enough, an amazing sight and a terrific feat of engineering well worth appreciating, in addition to being a unique and compelling experience.

  26. rocopaso says:

    I try to look after the 50 most haunted places in France!
    If you can help me,!!

  27. cacalips says:

    You are all so stupid. “Oh look, bones, obviously haunted”. Any of you that did history would have learned that this place is actually a second burial. They all were buried else where, then MOVED here to make space, and if they were directly put here, they died elsewhere like in a hospital (where the “ghost” would be). I have been here. Nothing is scary about it except the tourist gift shop where they try and sell 1$ items for 5$

    • Caretaker says:

      1,. Why do you call others stupid?
      2. How do you know that a ghost stays where the person died?
      It really makes me mad when people like you come here and call others stupid or whatever insult people like you enjoy giving out. How about you try to post your opinions and ideas without the insults OK?

      • eileenk says:

        Actually if you read alot about paranormal phenomena disturbing a grave often more distrubance…so it makes sense these bodies/spirits would not be at rest.

        Also if you read Echo Bodines’ book “It’s Only a Ghost” she clearly points to hauntings where the spirit did NOT die in the house it haunted, but rather nearby and wandered into the house because they were panicked and lost.

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