Mar 9, 2017

Luuc de Wilde is a 20-year-old Dutchman from Rotterdam who just loves to travel and make the most of his days. To the extreme.

He has traveled the world to visit abandoned hospitals, hotels, theme parks and bunkers. He has also visited Chernobyl. And he likes to climb on rooftops for a better view.

In March of 2016 Luuc wanted to try something else. He went underground. He traveled to Paris to visit the famous catacombs.

With over 300km of tunnels, the Paris catacombs form one of the largest underground complexes in the world. To get in is not that difficult, but Luc wanted to visit the parts that you are normally not allowed to visit, so he went looking on the internet.

One day he was invited to go down underground and met a cataphile at an unnamed metro station. This person would take Luuc on a several kilometer long walk over an abandoned railway until they came to a hole in the wall. “Welcome to the catacombs”.

The history of the Paris catacombs is roughly as follows. The tunnels were part of a mine which was used to “harvest” the building materials used to build Paris. This resulted in a huge 300km of tunnel complex.

In the 1780’s Paris was hit by a flu epidemic and the overground cemeteries were at full capacity. The tunnels under the city provided the answer to the millions of dead bodies that needed to be gotten rid of and so it came about that the tunnels filled up with dead people and became the catacombs.

Parts of the catacombs are now open to the public and a museum has even opened. However, Luuc is not interested in those cleaned up parts, he is interested in the original, illegal parts, filled with skulls and skeletons, the parts which are close to collapse due to lack of renovations. The parts not many people see. That is what gets his adrenaline flowing.

He has been back several times and now has a good understanding of the catacombs. He can find his own way in a large part of the tunnels, he does, however, stress to never go in the catacombs alone if you don’t know what you are doing or know where you are. It is very easy and dangerous to lose your orientation and walls do on occasion collapse and can trap you.

So be careful.

More of Luuc can be seen on his Facebook Page.

The Catacombs of Paris by Photographer Luuc de Wilde

Photo: Luuc de Wilde

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