Château d'If, Marseille
The island of If was uninhabited until the 16th century, when King Francois I, realising its military potential, ordered a fortress to be built on it. Shortly after, the fortress was converted to a prison and later made famous in the novel "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas. Alexandre Dumas had met José Custodio Faria, a monk and former inmate, and was so impressed with this man that he fashioned the 'mad monk' in his novel after him. The prison was closed in the late 19th century and opened to the public in 1890.
The Chateau d'If can be reached by boat from the Vieux Port (Old Port) in Marseille.
This was amazing because of the 30 minute boat ride to get there and then back again. It was an expensive boat ride...and the water was amazingly clear...and beautiful to see the city from off the water.
This is an abandoned chateau...and there isn't too much to do while you're there...but relax and have a peaceful afternoon tea while checking marseille from afar.
You can take a boat ride to a tiny isle where the Chateau d'If is situated. This small castle turned into a prison is known to everybody who has read Dumas' novel, "The Count of Monte Cristo'. This is fiction of course, but still the castle is nice and you can even enter a cell and look from behind the bars trying to imagine what it could be. The island also offers a nice view of the city. If ou decide to take a later boat, you can have a swim or sunbathe on the island. there is a small gift store there and all postcards have the Chateau d'If stamp proving that you did time there :)
The isle of If is the smallest of 3 islands lying just outside the old port of Marseille. The chateau (castle or fortress) was built in 1524 and became a prison in 1634. One of his prisoners was José Custodio Faria, who inspired writer Alexandre Dumas to write his famous novel “The Count of Monte Cristo”. It takes a 30 minutes boatride to reach the island, but we didn’t.
In 1524 (François I), a fortress was built to protect Marseille against sea-attacks. The island was later used as a state prison for slaves and republicans. The place has become famous from the novel written by Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Montecristo) in 1844.
Château d'If has been opened to public since 1890 and was classified as historical monument in 1926.
Visits (ferryboats from Quai des Belges - Vieux Port) + 33 04.91.55.50.09
The "Château d'If", a few miles away from the city. Its castle was built on order of François 1st, king of France, at the beginning of the XVIth century. It became later a state prison in 1634. In Alexandre Dumas' famous novel "Le Comte de Monte-Cristo", the main character, Edmond Dantès was jailed in the Château d'If, from where he escaped, being "buried" in the sea as a fake dead body. Several films have been made on this famous story. The Château d'If can be visited from the "Vieux Port" and though if Edmond Dantès never existed, you can visit his cell !
This is also free of charge (boat & chateau) when you have a CITY PASS.....
The most famous prisoner no doubt was Josè Custodio Faria whom Alexandre Dumas immortalised in his tale "The Count of Monte-Cristo".
After accomodating the rebels of 1848 and the communards of 1871, the fortress ceased to be a prison and was opened to the public in 1890.
As for Edmond Dantès, The Count of Monte-Cristo, the hole he dug into one of the cell walls is still visible.
It served me well to take this picture of Marseille seen through the hole!
Worthy of a visit, you will enjoy it!
That;s me, looking at the boat that will take travellers and residents to Chateau d'If and the isle of Frioul.
Until the 16th Century, the Isle of If was a wilderness, just an occasional haven for fishermen. It was François I who, during a visit to Marseille in 1516, realized its strategic importance and gave orders for a fortress to be built there.
On his arrival at the island by galley, the Monarch unexpectedly encountered a rhinoceros, peacefully grazing on the sparse grasses. It was a present from a maharadja to the king of Portugal, who has given it to the Pope, with a stopover on the island of If on its way to Rome!!
In 1531 the fortress was completed.
The chateau, incorporating 3 towers and a dungeon now controlled the bay of Marseilles. When the King returned in 1533 to meet Catherine de Médicis, the culverins and bombards thundered in his honour. For many years on end this was the only time they were heard.
Very quickly the fortress became a prison . Rebels, villains and recalcitrant galley slaves were imprisoned here for varying lengths of time.
Srarting in the 17th Century, large numbers of Protestants were thrown into the dungeons where many of them parished.
to be continued...
see the next tip
Chateau d'If was built in the early part of the 16th century. Originally intended to be a fortress, storing artillery, its true usage was as a prison, for both common and political prisoners. It was this usage that was immortalized in Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo".
Tour boats leave from Marseille's Vieux-Port (old harbor) pretty regularly. Upon arrival, you can tour the prison, the museum, and other parts of the island. Also, there is a snack bar. Be sure to catch the last boat from the island at the end of the day! Also, be cautious when walking the grounds: the island is a nesting place for a breed of large seagulls, and the birds can be quite agressively protective of their nests.
Boat tour to the Chateau d'If Island. It's a kind of Alcatraz Island and it had inspired Aexandre Dumas's stories
The castle is beautful and you can have a great view of Marseilles by the island.