Under the square in front of Notre Dame de Paris is one of the largest archaeological crypts in all of Europe.
Before the 1860s, the area in front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame was filled with buildings, some dating to the middle ages. When the buildings were torn down remnants of foundations and artifacts dating back to pre-Roman times were discovered.
This area on the banks of the Seine has seen human habitation since the early Paleolithic Period, some 500,000 years ago.
Remnants of the Gallo-Roman period, which had been lost to memory, were first unearthed during the renovation of Paris during the reign of Napoleon III. During this renovation digs along the banks of the Seine near Parc de Bercy revealed artifacts that pushed the dates of human habitation into the deep mists of pre-history.
The Musée Carnavalet has a very interesting exhibit on the pre-history of the region. Admission to this museum is free.
When digging began in the area in front of Notre Dame, the City was well aware of the archaeological treasure that could well be awaiting them there.
Excavations under the square uncovered parts of Roman ramparts, rooms heated by an system with underground furnaces and pipes, medieval cellars and the foundations of an orphan's hospital.
These are on display along with some interesting old photos of the neighborhood before the 1880s.
The Crypt of Notre Dame is located across the square directly in front of the Notre Dame cathedral.
The Crypt of Notre Dame is open everyday, except Monday, from 10 a.m.-6:00 p.m.The ticket booth closes at 5:30 p.m.
Admission prices are:
3.30 euros for adults; 1.60 euros for teens; under 13 years of age are admitted free.
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