The Château d’If is a fortress located on the island of If offshore of Marseille famous for being a setting in the well-known novel The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. The island where the fortress is located is inhabited and protected by gun platforms and cliffs – it is no wonder this fortress later acted as a prison.
As mentioned before, it was originally constructed to be a fortress between 1524 and 1531 by King Francis I, and the chateau has three towers with gun embrasures. King Francis I thought its location was perfect for defending the coastline from attacks. However, its construction did not make the population of Marseille happy and it never had to fight an attack.
Later on, it became a prison due to how nearly impossible it would be to escape it (Shutter Island, anyone?!). Over 3,000 French Protestant were sent to the island, including Gaston Crémieux, who was shot here. It stopped being a prison at the end of the 19th century.
Today, the Chateau is listed as a monument historique (historical monument) and can now be visited by boat from Marseille’s Old Port, for more information on boat rides, click here. Guided tours last 30 minutes.