The Château d'If (close up).
The Chateau D’If, constructed on a tiny island in the Bay of Marseilles in France, was erected as part of the island’s defenses. It was constructed by Francois I, its purpose initially for military use, however it was never put to the test.
|Tourists explore the château's courtyard|
The château is a square, three-story building 28 m long on each side, flanked by three towers with large gun embrasures. The remainder of the island, which only measures 30,000 square meters, is heavily fortified; high ramparts with gun platforms surmount the island's cliffs.
During the 18th century, a military engineer named Vauban examined Chateau D’If stating it was unskillfully assembled. "The fortifications look like the rock, they are fully rendered, but very roughly and carelessly, with many imperfections. The whole having been very badly built and with little care... All the buildings, very crudely done, are ill made." At this point in time, it was rather a gaol more so than a fortress.
Chateau D’If was one of France’s most notable and notorious prisons, many of its inmates being political rebels after the failed uprising of the Paris Commune in 1871. During the 17th century, Chateau D’If also housed thousands of religious prisoners, most of them Huguenots.
The most legendary occupant at Chateau D’If was the Count of Monte Cristo, a fictitious prisoner made famous in the novel The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
There’s no record of Edmond Dantes escaping from the Chateau D’If, however Dumas managed to weave an incredibly crafted story in his novel in 1844, making people believe it might have been true. Dumas even managed to include a genuine prisoner, Abbe Faria, into the storyline. Faria pioneered hypnotism in France and called the Chateau D’If his home in 1797.
The contrived aftermath of Dantes finding wealth beyond imagination and feeding his public with intrigue was just another reason why the story fascinated readers.
Chateau D’If prison closed its doors in 1890 and opened up to tourists arriving on boat trips in Marseilles. Since the story of The Count of Monte Cristo attracted so much attention, an escape hole was carved into a cell, playing up the legend.
Today, Chateau D’If receives more than 90,000 visitors a year.
Picture 1 and 2 Source