8 Awe-Inspiring Catacombs From Around the World

From Paris to New York, here are the world's spookiest and most awe-inspiring underground collections of bones.


Underground labyrinths that stretch for miles and miles, filled with skeletons and vast ossuaries. The very idea sounds chilling, a complete departure from ordinary reality, but that is the definition of a catacomb, and the world contains thousands of them.

While undeniably macabre, some of these catacombs have been arranged into incredibly intricate, moving, and sometimes sacred displays. A visit into their subterranean depths might just remind you how fleeting this life is, or it might connect you to some sublime force that exists beyond this mortal coil.

If you can't visit one, here's the next best thing: a list of the world's most fascinating catacombs.

1. The Paris Catacombs

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These infamous, expansive tunnels hold the remains of over six million people. They wind south from Paris's Barrière d'Enfer (Gate of Hell) for some 200 miles, though only a small portion of the labyrinth is open to the public.

Paris's grand catacombs were the project of King Louis XIV, who—in an effort to create more space and clean the streets of Paris—ordered the occupants of the city's cemeteries to be poured down mine shafts into the newly renovated tunnel system.

Since then, the tunnels have served as gathering places for secret societies, artists, and thieves, among other groups. Today, the portion that is open to the wider public is one of Paris's most popular tourist attractions.

2. Monastery of San Francisco Catacombs, Peru

This ossuary was created in the 16th century, and it was where the majority of Lima's occupants were buried up until the early 19th century. It eventually became overcrowded, leading sextons to dissolve the corpses in quicklime so only the skeletons remained. These catacombs are full of secret passages, and the bones themselves are laid out in geometric shapes, hinting at a wider metaphysical or mystical purpose to their design.

3. Capuchin Monastery, Italy

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These catacombs have to be one of the creepiest of them all. Located in Palermo, Italy, this vast tomb contains more than skeletons: Nearly 8,000 fully dressed, mummified corpses line its walls. The corpses are divided into specific rooms, dedicated to categories like religious figures, for professionals, and for women, virgins, and infants, and it is believed that the bodies were all left to mummify naturally during their time underground due to the particularly dry air.

Italy actually boasts a great deal of ossuaries, including the San Martino della Battaglia ossuary with its eerie cabinet of skulls, and the Capuchin Crypt, with its stunningly ornate spirals of bones.

Santa Maria della Concezione Capuchin Crypt, Rome

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4. Odessa, Ukraine

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These tunnels can proudly claim to form the largest labyrinth in the world. Stretching for around 2,500 miles, they dwarf Paris and Rome's famous catacombs. Believed to date back to the 17th century, at their lowest points, the tunnels—some of which began as mines—reach 60 km below the earth's surface.

They served as hiding places for Soviet and rebel units during World War II, and today you can see vestiges of Communist presences down in their shadowy depths. Filled with cryptic markings and still largely unexplored, the tunnels have hosted parties held by Ukrainian teenagers—and are the subjects of numerous urban legends that could contain seeds of awful truths.

5. Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), Portugal

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Death and faith have long been intertwined, and nowhere is this more visible than in Portugal's Chapel of Bones, where the lines between life, death, and faith in the sublime become invisible. The chapel's walls are lined with skeletons, skulls, and crosses, and are designed to mix reverence with horror, beauty with decay. The chapel was designed by 16th century monks, who hoped that by decorating the walls with skeletons, they might remind churchgoers of their own mortality.

6. Hal Safleini Hypogeum, Malta

The Ancient Ones

This underground structure dates back to Neolithic times. Created around 3000 BC, it is typically referred to as the "Hypogeum," meaning "underground" in Greek. It was believed to have been a necropolis, and roughly 7,000 bodies are stored within its shadowy depths.

The space also contains the remnants of a mysterious shrine, and its ceilings are decorated with intricate red ocher paintings of honeycombs and spirals, which some believe represent the Tree of Life. Excavators have also discovered a beautiful clay statue of a goddess known only as the "Sleeping Lady," in a room called the Holy of Holies—a room that was designed to channel the light from the winter solstice towards its facade.

The catacombs also contain a pit likely used for animal sacrifices and a small corner called the Oracle Room, which may have hosted sacred fortune-telling ceremonies or other rites; plus, if you whisper into an indent in the wall, the sound reverberates throughout the whole structure. Consisting of three levels, each stretching deeper into the earth, the space is believed to have been a place where life, death, and spiritual transformation were each worshiped. It belies an ancient wisdom that the modern world is still completely unaware of.

7. Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic

Travel Channel

This tiny chapel contains 40,000 to 70,000 skeletons, arranged into bizarre and elegant shapes such as chandeliers made from almost every bone in the human body. This chapel was designed by a single woodcarver, who was commissioned to create the display in the 19th century. Located about an hour east of Prague, the site was the subject of a surrealist short film made in the 1970s, and today the site is open to the public.

8. Green-Wood Cemetery, New York

Atlas Obscura

Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery boasts its own small array of catacombs, which typically have only been open to the public once per year. However, today the catacombs are used for artistic performances with increasing frequency. Throughout the summer of 2019, they've hosted a performance known as the "Angel's Share"—a phrase that distillers use to describe the portion of spirits that evaporates while they're being made, but which could also have some ghostlier implications. The series consists of hour-long classical music concerts, located near the tombs of the 30 New York City families buried in its shadowy depths. According to the series' creator, Andrew Ousley, "These are extraordinarily beautiful spaces, but they're also spaces where you confront your mortality. When it's paired with a beautiful performance, it enhances our appreciation for the shared experiences of life."

Of course, for those who need it, there's also plenty of booze.

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Travel Tips

Best Jobs for People Who Love To Travel

If you want to travel but have a job that is currently holding you back, here are a few of our suggestions for the best jobs for people who love to travel.

For many people, traveling is an amazing experience, but traveling is not always feasible because of responsibilities to work.

One way to get around this roadblock is to get a job that will let you travel and see the world. Here are some of the best jobs for people who love to travel.

Hostelworld HostelworldHostelworld.com

Translator

A translator is a wonderful job for those who want to travel. It will bring you to many places as you work, so long as those places speak the language you can translate. The great thing about translating is the variety of work you can get by translating for specific clients or just translating for tourists in the area. You can choose what type of scene you wish to work in very easily.

Pilot

A pilot fits the definition of a job that gets to travel perfectly. Now, whether you are a private pilot or a commercial pilot, you will still get to fly all over the planet. The only major problem with this job is the requirement of flight classes. But once you get your license, you can fly freely around the world while making yourself money to fund your trips.

Travel blogger

Being a travel blogger is a temperamental job but, if done correctly, it will allow you to visit anywhere you want. Writing to fans as you travel the world can be a fun and exciting way to engage with the planet. This job can be difficult to do, though, as you must be able to write consistently and capture your audience with each post.

English teacher

This may not sound like a job that allows you to travel, but schools all around the world are always looking for more people to teach English.

In this career, you would move near the school that you would teach at and live there over the course of your time there. The interesting thing about this job is that it does not necessarily require a teaching degree, depending on the school and country in question. You also get to live in a new country for an extended period.

When it comes to the best jobs for people who love to travel, these are just a few of our suggestions. There are plenty of jobs where you can travel around the world, but these ones are far-reaching and cover a lot of different lifestyles. They might seem like pipe dreams, but hey, you never know!

Seattle, Washington is a rainy, coffee-fueled, coastal town often referred to as the "Emerald City."

Located against the ecological wonderland of Puget Sound, this cosmopolitan, seaside city is a mishmash of arts, culture, history, nature, and, of course, cloudy weather. Thanks to its proximity to nature, its greenery, and its culturally rich, big-city atmosphere, the city is becoming increasingly popular, both for tourists and those looking for a change of scenery.

The Big Stops: Tourist Seattle

If you only have a few days to visit Seattle, you'll probably want to check out the area's most famous attractions.

For nature lovers and summit-chasers, there's the imposing, wildflower-shrouded Mt. Rainier.

Mt. Rainierthebesttravelplaces.com

Mt. Rainier

For foodies, there's the popular Pike Place Market, a giant patchwork of food-sellers and friendly chaos where you can purchase everything from giant crabs' legs to bottomless amounts of coffee (more on that later).

Pike Place Marketseattle.eater.com

And finally, there's the iconic Space Needle and the Sky View Observatory, which will give you extraordinary views of the city.

Space Needlegetyourguide.com

Seattle Arts and Museums

For arts and culture lovers, Seattle has plenty to cut your teeth on. Don't miss the Chihuly Garden and Glass, a collection of extraordinary blown-glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly.

Chihuly Gardensfodors.com

Chihuly Gardens

For art, there's the giant Seattle Art Museum Downtown. Seattle also offers the Museum of Pop Culture, a nonprofit that features all your favorite icons from history, and plenty of other options.

Museum of Pop Culturesmithsonianmag.org

For some history, there's the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, which commemorates Seattle's history as a gold rush hub.

There are plenty of quirky attractions—like the giant Fremont Troll, the 18-foot sculpture in the Fremont neighborhood that cuts an imposing figure.

Fremont Trollsillyamerica.com

You could also take in the city from a boat—marine enthusiasts might enjoy visiting to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks to explore the history of this port city.

Seattle, of course, also has a gritty underground side—you may know the city from its time at the heart of the '90s grunge movement.

It also has a long, storied history that has left more than a few scars. You can literally see its underground through one of its underground tours, which will take you on a walk through the "buried city," the remnants left over from before the Great Fire of 1889.

Seattle Undergroundpinterest

Natural Wonders

Seattle is notorious for its natural wonders. For a close-up view, there's the Seattle Aquarium, a marine experience that showcases the best of what Puget Sound has to offer.

For more exposure to the beauty of Seattle's nature, try the Washington Park Arboretum, a 230-acre showcase of Seattle's wetlands and natural wonders.

Washington Park Arboretumtriposo.com

You might also pay a visit to the Alki Beach for some time with the ocean waves.

Alki BeachMetropolitangardens.blogspot.com

Or consider taking a more exhaustive adventure to Discovery Park, a giant and labyrinthine natural park at the edge of Puget Sound.

Discovery Parktrip savvy.com

Food and Drink

Food tours are also popular options for those who want to get more intimate with the city's cuisine, and Seattle is often ranked as one of the best cities for foodies.

It's also a great place for coffee-heads. You might also pay a visit to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, AKA Ultimate Starbucks, a tasting room that features a coffee library amongst other treats for coffee addicts.

Sarbucks Reserve Roasterydesigner.com

Moving to Seattle

If you're planning on moving to Seattle, locals say there's a few things you should know. First off, it is most definitely overcast the majority of the time, though the rain is rather like a mist. That makes the rare sunny day shine even more, though, locals say, in addition to fostering natural abundance.

The city is generally very congested with traffic, which can be noisy, though it offers great public transportation options, from buses to rail—regardless, you'll want to get an Orca Card for that.

Like every city, Seattle has a number of diverse and charismatic neighborhoods. For example, there's the beachy, more laid-back West Seattle.

West SeattleWest Seattle

There's the vibrant Capitol Hill, a hub of arts, culture, tech bros, and nightlife (during non-COVID times).

There's the historic and artsy Pioneer Square, featuring plenty of museums, shops, galleries, and pubs.

Pioneer Square SeattleExpedia

Fremont is a more bohemian area. Belltown is a trendy waterfront neighborhood that's close to everything.

In general, Seattle residents love the city for its proximity to nature, from beaches to glaciers, and its abundance of arts and cultural attractions. As Kimberly Kinrade said, "Seattle is for people who love culture, but refuse to sacrifice their wild nature to attain it." Residents dislike the steep cost of housing and all things that come from rising prices, including the city's large homeless population.

In general, the city is known as environmentally conscious, liberal, and dog-loving. The people are often referred to as nice but possibly a bit standoffish and cold (the "Seattle Freeze" is when you make plans to hang out and then bail, which is apparently very common). The rain can certainly get depressing, but the proximity to nature helps.

Remember, if you do happen to move: umbrellas are dead giveaways for tourists.


What's your favorite part about Seattle? What did we leave out? Let us know at @thejourniest on Twitter!

Travel

Weed World Candies Exist to Prey on Gullible Tourists

Weed is still illegal in New York, but scamming tourists is not.

You wouldn't know it walking around midtown Manhattan, but marijuana is still illegal in New York.

It does seem strange to think that perhaps the most metropolitan city in the US would be lagging behind so many other parts of the country that have legalized possession, production, and sale of cannabis and THC products, but it's true.

New York's decriminalization of marijuana has led many smokers to be more brazen with their public consumption in recent years, and Governor Cuomo recently announced plans for limited legalization for recreational use at the state level. But for the time being the sale of products containing THC is still very much illegal.

buy happiness You sure about that?

Adding to the confusion is a company that has sprung up to prey on tourist's uncertainty. Weed World trucks have multiplied at a staggering rate since they first started appearing in Midtown and the Village a few years ago. Easily a dozen RVs and vans now line the tourist-dense streets of Manhattan, advertising Girl Scout Cookies and Gorilla Glue, clad in marijuana-leaf decals and occupied by employees who are paid either to be stoned out of their minds, or just to pretend they are.

With eyes nearly in slits and an air of relaxation that suggests that customers are temporary interludes from a permanent nap, they will promise you as much as they can get away with while letting their branding do most of the work. They will sell you four lollipops for $20, which would seem like a great deal if not for the fact that they will not deliver on the strong implication that they'll get you high.

They have a Twitter account where they celebrate the supposed availability of weed and claim to "have New York locked down." They'll even sell you vape cartridges that advise you to "get medicated," and which are packed with potent doses of… flavor?

weed world truck

An employee once assured me that their candies do contain THC—maybe they wouldn't be so brazenly dishonest today—and in a drunken state I coughed up $5 to test that claim. There is a faint weedy taste to their candies, and you may find trace amounts of CBD inside, but that's it. It's a scam. There is no THC. Nothing that will give their customers the experience they're selling.

Worse than the trucks is the Weed World Candies storefront that opened in midtown in 2019. Just walking past you would swear that people were passing a massive blunt inside.

The smell is unmistakable and overpowering, except that it's fake. Whatever chemical fragrance they pumped onto the street, it was not connected to anyone smoking weed. Inside, the psychedelic wall art complemented shelves lined with suggestive candies and boxes emblazoned with pot leaf insignia.

Whatever the venue, they are all too happy to sell you overpriced hemp products and CBD creams and chocolates made to look like nugs. And if you're a tourist, or a moron like me, you might believe the scam long enough to give them money, but nothing they sell will get you high.

weed world store Hiroki Kittaka

The owners of Weed World, Judah Izrael and Bilal Muhammad—who prefers to go by "Dro Man" or "Doctor Dro"—will defend their products by claiming that they serve to promote legalization and decriminalization efforts by normalizing the idea of public sale of marijuana. But at no point in the purchasing process is the illusion that their candies will get you high broken. At no point are their customers offered literature explaining the mission of Weed World.

On their website's FAQs page, there is no mention of THC or its absence from their products, but the first question, "How much should I eat?" is answered, "It's all based on your tolerance but there's no limit." Tolerance for what? Sugar? The company—which originated in Alabama and has spread to cities around the country—mostly seems like a very profitable way to sell candy to gullible adults.

weed world wall art Nicole Mallete

The best thing I can say in their defense is that one of their trucks was recently busted by police in Saraland, Alabama, with products that "tested positive for marijuana." Assuming this isn't a screw up or deliberate frame-job by the police, it's possible that some of the Weed World trucks are using their faux activism as a front for selling actual drugs. If so, that would be the most honest thing about this company. Until that's confirmed, ignore these trucks and maybe just ask a friend for a hookup.