Located in the North of the city Montmartre Cemetery is one of several large burial grounds towards the edges of central Paris. These outer interments are the result of the 1786 edict that no more bodies could be buried within the city limits of the day due to the hazards the corpses posed to public health. During the French Revolution of 1789–1799 various stone quarries were used as mass graves and the abandoned gypsum quarry in Montmartre was later designated on official necropolis. Its past life as a working quarry explains one of the cemetery's most unusual features - it has a main road running through it (now on a viaduct). The necropolis is the final resting place of many creatives who lived in the colourful district of the city, including one of my favorite composers, Berloiz, and the painter Degas.
I first visited the cemetery during my trip to Paris earlier this year. I was struck by how peaceful an island it is in an otherwise busy district of the French capital. The viaduct (a wonderful Steampunk affair of iron and rivets) adds to the sense that visitors are in a depression that is somehow separated from the surrounding city. Indeed, the Eastern edge of the cemetery undulates and gives the impression that one is in a valley of the dead.
The architecture of the tombs is very inspiring. Many resemble tiny Gothic cathedrals and are undoubtedly the home to ghouls and ghasts who know the value of a sinister-looking haunt. I made friends with a rather suspicious cat who, I suspect, was unsure if I was a spectre or simply a curious tourist.