Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U = Underground Paris - A to Z Challenge

Underground now, not in Roman times. . .

Underground Paris, Antiquity Find,  by DG Hudson

Underground Paris = Crypt Archeologique

When the Romans came, the Parisii lived here.  In this museum, you'll see the successive buildings erected on this site since Ancient Times. 

Crypte Archeologique, Notre Dame Square by DG Hudson

During the Gallo-Roman Period, Paris was known as Lutetia, which developed from the first and second centuries BC.  The Crypte Archeologique contains the remains of Lutetia, including its third century BC walls, its streets and heating systems and even the ruins of a cathedral. Some of the remains are medieval, dating to the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.

Roman Archeological find, by DG Hudson

The Archeological Crypt of the Parvis of Notre-Dame is a museum of the City of Paris, situated just below the front of the Notre Dame Cathedral, in the 4th district, on the Ile de la Cite'.

Crypte Archeologique, Roman Ruins, by Green Eye

During the late 18th century, the decision was made to create three new large-scale suburban burial grounds on the outskirts of the city, and condemn all existing parish cemeteries within city limits. They were actually created in the early 19th century, outside the central area of the capital.

These new cemeteries were: Montmartre Cemetery in the north, Père Lachaise Cemetery in the east, Passy Cemetery in the west. Later, Montparnasse Cemetery was added in the south.


Underground Paris = The Catacombs

Arrête! C'est ici l'empire de la Mort
Halt! This is the Empire of Death'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catacombs_of_Paris  Catacombs of Paris and Photo

After descending a narrow spiral stone stairwell of 19 metres to the darkness and silence broken only by the gurgling of a hidden aqueduct channelling local springs away from the area, and after passing through a long and twisting hallway of mortared stone, visitors find themselvesbefore a stone portal, in the ossuary.

The government had been searching for and consolidating long abandoned stone quarries in and around the capital since 1777, with the Police Lieutenant General overseeing the renovations.  From the eve of a consecration ceremony on the 7th April the same year, behind a procession of chanting priests, began a parade of black-covered bone-laden horse-drawn wagons that continued for years to come.  The exhumation and transfer of all Paris' dead to the underground sepulture began in 1786, taking until 1788 to complete.

The official name for the catacombs is l'Ossuaire Municipal. Although this cemetery covers only a small section of underground tunnels comprising "les carrières de Paris" ("the quarries of Paris"), Parisians today often refer to the entire tunnel network as "the catacombs". 

Opened in the late 18th century, the underground cemetery became a tourist attraction on a small scale from the early 19th century, and has been open to the public on a regular basis from 1874.


Have you seen either the Crypte Archeologique or the Catacombs?  I didn't see the Catacombs, so let me know if you have. Please share in the comments what you think about going Underground (as in ruins, caverns. . ).


http://en.parisinfo.com/museum-monuments/299/crypte-archeologique-du-parvis-notre-dame  Additional info re-Crypt

http://www.historvius.com/crypte-archeologique-paris-703/  Crypt Archeologique

http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paris/hist/nd-crypt.html  Additional info re-Crypt



  1. awesome post! ive only been to paris once but visited the catacombs.... creepy as!
    the only downside was the two hour plus wait to get into them
    but highly recommended.... if you can stomach walking through miles of bones
    plus the air has a weird aged smell........ not surprising!

    1. Well, it isn't supposed to be a walk in the park, I guess, but it's a good place to get a feeling for the word 'creepy'.

      Hubby refused to go in, and I don't like being underground either. . .

  2. hey DG...just noticed you review books also and like suspense
    it says you get them from ur personal library
    i dont have any hardcovers available, but i could always get you a digital copy of white lies from netgalley if you read gidital as well

    1. I replied, check your inbox, Jeremy.

      I will definitely read a digital copy and review the book. I do like suspense. (Also sci-fi)

      Thanks for asking.

  3. I like caves, but have never been underground in a catacomb. It would be cool to experience it. It's neat to think about the ingenuity to build these structures, and to engineer aquifers to divert water away, especially in a time without heavy machinery.

    1. I agree, Rick, there were some mishaps along the way but centuries of success must mean they're doing something right.

  4. this really fascinates me--when i was much younger i had wanted to be an archeologist--wonderful post!

    1. Archeology is interesting. It's the history, the mythology, and legends that go along with the finding of antiquity objects that add to our knowledge of past civilizations.

      Understood, Lynn.

  5. Replies
    1. Then you can tell me about the Catacombs, Alex.

      The major city cemeteries are definitely worth seeing. I did a post on Pere Lachaise before the Challenge.

      The Crypt is just great historical info on the city of Paris, no bones, no burials.

  6. Whoa, the catacombs look spooky. I have been to Notre Dame, but not underground. I was in Russia a few years ago, and they are big into relics. We saw many cases of saints' skulls, finger bones and the like. Really creeped me out! I'm over from A to Z to say hi. pop on by if you like. Catherine

    1. Yes, Catherine, bones creep me out too, but I understand the reasoning behind keeping them (proof of existence).

      I will stop by your blog. Thanks for visiting mine!

  7. This was a wonderful post! So informative. Thanks.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Jess. Thanks for stopping by and for following.

      I visited your blog, and left a comment!

  8. Thats really cool, it makes me want to go and see it for myself. I wonder which other cities have portions that are underground....

    1. That's a good point. If other cities had quarries like Paris had, they may be more.

  9. Hi DG .. great Underground tour - I'll be back to read .. but this didn't touch what I wanted to find out -I need to remember what exactly! I hadn't realised Paris was called something else til I started blogging a few years ago!

    Cheers Hilary


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