Dark Tourism: Seven Spine-chilling Catacombs
The word Catacombs comes from the Latin word Catacumbas – to be among the tombs. Are you a Dark Tourist that would enjoy being among tombs? Here are the spookiest catacombs that you might want to visit…
Catacombs of Rome
Rome sits atop of over 40 catacombs, one of the most famous being the Catacombs of Domitilla. It’s filled with 80 painted tombs spread over 17km of caves! These catacombs are made very important in art history by their frescos, gold medallions and statues. These catacombs were copied from the Jewish community when they emigrated from the Middle East 6,000 years ago! 400 years ago they were rediscovered and emptied of all bodies, which leaves these catacombs a slightly spooky experience but with lots of ancient art to take it down on the spine-chilling scale.
The Catacombs of Capuchin have to be one of the creepiest going – these bodies are hardly laying to rest by being hung from the wall. Beneath a monastery outside of Palermo on Sicily, these bodies hang and no one knows why. Who would want to display that? One of the most famous corpses in this resting place is of two-year-old Rosalia who died in 1920 but lays very well preserved in a glass coffin as if she died yesterday, she’s called ‘Sleeping Beauty’. Ooo.
Monastery of San Francisco, Lima
Would it be wrong to say that these catacombs are… aesthetically pleasing? As far as catacombs go anyway. The catacombs are filled with most of the people who lived in Lima up until the 19th century leaving the bones of around 70,000 people! (Arranged nicely though). It’s said that corpses were dissolved in quicklime with the leftover bones being put in the catacombs. It took a hundred years to construct these catacombs and lived through many earthquakes until it was badly damaged in 1970 by a particularly bad quake.
Rabat Catacombs, Malta
The catacombs beneath Rabat are the oldest in the world and date back to 400BC! Rabat is now a small town that used to be a major Roman city and so the catacombs house around 7,000 graves. The St Agatha’s part is filled mostly with children with sections for Pagans and Jews as well as Christians. It’s thought that as they are so old, they were probably used as something else before they became a resting place for the dead. Only part of the tunnels are open to the public but you might be so spooked that you won’t want to see anymore!
Huda Jama, Slovenia
Eastern Europe had a hard time in the 20th century when it came to mass killings, be it by the Nazis or Communists. In the small town of Huda Jama Yugoslav Partisans (anti-German communists) used mines to hide from attacks. After the war, the mines were used for mass killings and as a result over 700 bodies have been removed since 2009 – and as of yet, it’s not one you’ll be hurrying to visit. There’s been so little investigation on it that there are few photos, so here’s a photo of the beautiful Slovenian countryside to take your mind off it.
The Catacombs of Paris, or The Empire of Death as they’re sometimes known, has an astonishing population of 6 million. The huge numbers of bones are a result of the growing city burying its people in the centre of the town ever since it was founded until a flood came. A huge downpour resulted in dead bodies riding the waves throughout Paris and inevitably thrown into the Roman-built underground tunnels. Only 1 of the 200 miles of tunnels are open to the public, however, some people have ventured a little further. Recently a home built cinema was found in a cave deep in the catacombs! It was kitted out with electricity and even a phone line – not to mention the fully stocked bar next door! That would be worth the visit!
Beneath Odesa lies the longest underground passages in the world, and it’s creepy! The labyrinth is so big that it’s five times bigger than the next largest one, the Catacombs of Paris. These tunnels were never intentionally used as graves but mummified bodies have been found and are still being found every so often. A very small part is officially open to tourists but you can also get a tour from unofficial guides if you dare. People have both been murdered in the tunnels and murdered and then dumped beneath the town, including many Jews from the time of WW2. A very spine-chilling story you might have heard is that a few years ago a girl called Masha who partied in the town on New Year’s Eve and ended up in the tunnels with her friends. For some reason or another, she ended up alone and her friends left without her. A body was found a few years later but no one knows if the story is actually true…