Catacombs are a journey unlike any other I have experienced. You descend
many feet below the city streets into dim passages with rows of skulls
and femurs stacked floor to ceiling on either side of you. They are almost
entirely anonymous, with only placards stating the name of the cemetery
the bones came from labelling huge sections of the deceased. It is estimated
that there are over six million bodies here.
The Catacombs came about as a result of overcrowding in the existing cemeteries in the late eighteenth century. The cemeteries had become so overrun with the dead that they were sticking up from the earth, and even, as in the case of the Cimetiere Des Innocents, breaking through walls and into buildings. Something had to be done, before the whole city wound up infected with disease from the rotting corpses that lay decaying in the cemeteries, and in charnel houses and ossuaries.
It was decided by the city that a former gypsum quarry would be converted into a huge depository for the bones of the dead, and so, in April 1786, The Municipal Ossuary was born. The first bones delivered were from the infamous Cimetiere des Innocents, and quickly. many other overcrowded churchyards followed suit.
sign indicates these were victims of consumption