Thursday, March 27, 2008

Calvaire cemetery in Montmartre

I took this photo at Calvaire cemetery, near Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, Paris, on November 1, 2006. The cemetery is only open this one day out of the year, All-Saints' Day, and there was a line of people wending their way through the tiny burial ground trying to connect with the distant past, trying to fathom these Parisians long-dead for several centuries. In fact Calvaire is one of the two remaining church burial grounds left inside historic Paris, that is, inside the 20 arrondissements. (The other is Charonne in the 20th arr.) Shortly before the revolution in 1789 the king ordered all the church burial grounds closed (for health reasons) and the remains removed to what is now the famous catacombs in Montparnasse, in the southern section of the city.

For some reason, only Calvaire and Charonne were left undisturbed, more or less.

Anyway, following the closure of the old church burial grounds the city began creating cemeteries to the east (Pere Lachaise), south (Montparnasse) and north (Montmartre) to provide a more tidy and elegant repository for the remains of Paris' "departed."

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