Fontaine des Innocents

Fontaine des Innocents

This is the Fontaine des Innocents in Les Halles, Paris. It marks the former location of a cemetery, the Cimetière des Innocents. The fountain was built to honor King Henri II and also includes references to his wife Catherine de Medici (more on her in postcard three) and meant to stand at the intersection of Rue St. Denis, one of the oldest streets in Paris, and Rue Berger when construction began in 1546. It was eventually moved to the Square des Innocents where it still stands today. Before the fountain was moved to this square, the cemetery and an adjoining church stood here. Over the centuries, it was used for mass burials of up to 1500 people at a time. When the cemetery started to fill up bodies were stored in what were called charnel houses. Inevitably, this led to a complete closure for overuse. The story I was told on a guided tour is that the cemetery had grown so overstuffed that one day the daughter of a wine merchant was crushed to death in their cellar when bodies burst through the walls. Supposedly, this final straw led the King to close the cemetery.  

Fontaine des Innocents  

Bodies bursting through walls sounds absurd, but you have to keep in mind an estimated two million people were buried in the cemetery (up to sixty feet below the ground) over six centuries by the time of its closure.  

Fontaine des Innocents  

The cemetery was here from the twelfth century until the King had it closed in 1780. In 1786, the bodies were removed and placed in the catacombs, the famous Parisian catacombs. After the Church and cemetery were gone, the area became a marketplace. Today the fountain area is surrounded by restaurants and shops, it is a very pleasant, peaceful area, and you would never guess what used to be there.  

Fontaine des Innocents  

If you never want to look at candles or soap the same way again you can read more here.  

mysterypostcards

mysterypostcards

I send postcards with my photos on them. You figure out the location from the clues in the message.

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