Loving life in Parisí Empire of the Dead
By Amanda Sealy and Samantha Weihl | CNN.com
Beneath the streets of the City of Light lies a world draped in darkness and shrouded in silence. The tunnels are narrow, the ceilings are low and death is on display.
The skulls and bones lining the walls, arranged in a macabre fashion, make up what is known as the Empire of the Dead -- the Catacombs of Paris.
The catacombs snake below the city, a 321-kilometer (200-mile) network of old quarries, caves and tunnels.
Some Parisians are drawn to this largely uncharted territory -- a hidden network of adventure, discovery and even relaxation. They are known as ícataphilesí and the catacombs are their playground.
It is a top-secret group. Catacomb entrances are known only to those daring enough to roam the networks on their own -- and break the law.
The remains of more than six million people are buried in a vast network of tunnels below Paris, France.
Entering unauthorized sections of the catacombs is illegal and a police force is tasked with patrolling the tunnels, and caught cataphiles risk fines of up to 60 euros ($73).
But for explorers like Loic Antoine-Gambeaud and his friends, it is a risk they are willing to take.
"I think itís in the collective imagination. Everybody knows that there is something below Paris; that something goes on thatís mysterious. But I donít think many people have even an idea of what the underground is like," Antoine-Gambeaud said.
For those who want to find out, but are not willing to take the risk of going in unsupervised, there is a legal, tourist-friendly public entrance to the catacombs off Place Denfert-Rochereau. Visitors from around the world will queue up to see death on display.
"I think people are fascinated with death," one visitor said. "They donít know what itís about and you see all these bones stacked up, and the people that have come before us, and itís fascinating. Weíre trying to find our past and itís crazy and gruesome and fun all at the same time."
But experiencing the history of Paris in an orderly fashion is not the cataphilesí style.
Underground, there are plaques echoing the street names above etched into the walls, helping the cataphiles navigate.
Often equipped only with head lamps and homemade maps, they explore the tunnels and ancient rooms, sometimes staying underground for days at a time.
Parts of the catacomb network date back to medieval times.
They throw parties, drink wine, or just relax in a silence they say canít be experienced anywhere else.
The catacombs are a by-product of Parisí early development. Builders dug deep underground to extract limestone to build Paris above ground.
But the subterranean quarries that were formed proved to be a shaky foundation for the city, causing a number of streets to collapse and be swallowed up by the ground.
Eventually, repairs and reinforcements were made, and to this day, the tunnels and quarries are still monitored for safety.
The quarries went through several transformations throughout history. Over time, they have served as everything from hiding places for revolutionaries to mushroom farms.
In the 18th century the Catacombs became known as the Empire of the Dead.
Read the full article at: cnn.com
7 Underground Wonders of the World: Labyrinths, Crypts, Catacombs and More
Unique Burial: Bizarre ícow womaní found in Anglo-Saxon dig
Bones of 200 soldiers from time of Christ so well preserved in bog that their DNA can be studied
John the Baptistís Bones Found?
The Good Death: Making Death Part of Your Life
Latest News from our Front Page
Immigrants in Hungary Head to German Border on Government Buses and Walking on Foot
Footage showed migrants — frustrated with the Hungarian authorities, who have blocked their way by rail — starting the walk from Budapest toward Germany. Others remained in a standoff with the police.
Budapest - After a day of defiance by increasingly desperate refugees, the government of Hungary metaphorically threw up its hands Friday and offered to bus thousands of migrants to ...
Generation P. Russia awaken!
From Youtube description: The first Russian cult film of the new millenium
Watch a preview here:
Blonde Parade in Latvia
Youtube description: Hundreds of blonde Latvian women marched through the streets of Riga to to lift nation's economy.
Shocking: Young Girls Convulse On The Floor After HPV Shot
Video appears to show widespread adverse reaction to Gardasil vaccine
Shocking video posted to Facebook shows a group of young girls convulsing on the floor after reportedly taking the Gardisil vaccine somewhere in Bolivia.
White Women Are Getting Fed Up
White women speak out against the claim that "White women have things so much easier than every other people."
This video has been flagged as "inappropriate" by Youtube:
Don't miss the Radio 3Fourteen interview with Lana, Sinead and Megan.
|More News » |