Travels in Foreign Lands

This will be my opportunity to share some of my thoughts and experiences in Switzerland with my friends and family back home. I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures.

Location: Japan

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Catacombs

We slept in a little today. We were both so exhausted after all of our non-stop activity. When we did finally get our lazy selves out of the hostel, we wandered down to the Catacombs. At the entrance to the Catacombs "Stop! This is the empire of the dead."

It was the strangest thing. A couple hundred years ago disease was rampant in the city of Paris because of all of the cemeteries in such close proximity to the living quarters. So they ended up digging up about 6,000,000 graves and dumping them into these abandoned mine passageways under the city. The mines had been dug to gather rocks for building, but eventually this had to be stopped because one of the river banks was about to collapse into the mines.

After some time the Parisian leaders decided it would be a good idea to go down into the Catacombs and organize the bones so they could charge people admission to come and see. Thus the Catacombs as we know them today were born.

The walls were covered in stacks and stacks of bones. They were very artfully arranged as well. The skulls were placed in various geometric shapes, even hearts and crosses.

We also came across many plaques with various French sayings referencing death. We also say many Biblical quotes.

We were strongly warned to keep to the marked path, because in the 1850s a Frenchman ignored this advice and ended up a permanent resident of the Catacombs. I wonder if they ever found his body. Needless to say, we stuck to the path.

The passageways underground mimicked the roads above and the rooms underground mimicked the houses above. It was very well thought out. When we finally did get out of the Catacombs, we popped out on some random street a few blocks from where we started. The whole experience was very interesting.

Then we ventured down to the Pantheon. This is the home of Foucalt's Pendulum. That was the coolest science experiement I had ever seen. It tells time by the rotation of the Earth. There is a pendulum suspended above the floor with a dial and hours on the floor. As the pendulum swings and the Earth rotates, it tells time. This works on the same principle as rotating a glass of iced tea. The ice does not rotate in relation to the glass. As the Earth rotates, the "clock" on the floor does not appear to move while the pendulum does. This allows the pendulum to tell time. It is fascinating to me.

There was also this really weird art exhibit inside. That is what is obstructing your view in the picture.

We wanted to have crepes for lunch. We got the ham, cheese and eggs which had been so good our first day in Paris. But the guy didn't know what he was doing and the eggs weren't cooked at all. It was gross.

We went back to the Pantheon to take the tour up to the top. There were a lot of stairs to climb, but the view was great. Afterwards we wandered around the Latin Quarter, then went back to the hostel to get ready for our date.


Blogger Chantelita said...


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