Beneath Paris are underground catacombs of old quarry tunnels carefully lined with human skulls and bones, and arranged in the macabre displays as tourist attraction.
The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries in Paris, France, which hold the remains of more than six million people. in a small part of a tunnel network built to consolidate Paris’ ancient stone quarries.
Created in the 18th century, because of major public health problems, the bones were extracted from overpopulated city cemeteries and transferred to the underground site. Paris’ abandoned underground quarries were forgotten until the authorities decided to turn them into an extensive network of ossuaries in 1786.
The Cemetery of the Holy Innocents was the first cemetery to be emptied of all the skeletal remains to be transferred to the Catacombs. The catacombs, during the 18th and 19th century continued to receive skulls and bones from all over Paris. Before completion in 1810, under Louis-Étienne Héricart de Thury, the catacombs were given its iconic design.
Femurs and skulls were separated and placed into patterns of the walls of walkways, and monuments were made throughout the catacombs honoring the dead. Both out of whimsy and to convey deeper religious messages about death, they arranged bones in various shapes, like hearts, circles and death heads. However, authorities realized its potential as a tourist attraction so the bones were arranged in the macabre displays seen today.