Sunday, 1 August 2010

Chateau D’If Prison: Famed Home of the Count of Monte Cristo


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



John | Daily Photo said...
1 August 2010 at 22:54  

It looks fantastic. There's so much cool history in France - I really should make the effort to visit.

Patrick Bernauw said...
2 August 2010 at 00:16  

One of my favorite castles in France... (The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my all time favorite stories too!)
Blogged it on the Historical Mysteries!

Richard Wing said...
2 August 2010 at 11:11  

Even if Vauban stated it was unskillfully constructed and lacked his standards, it's still standing. Cool history regarding the prison. Awesome images with great photography and very interesting read of popular history, Lauren. Cool post.

Kate Smedley said...
3 August 2010 at 02:17  

I love the story of the Count of Monte Cristo, this looks beautiful, a great place to visit. Great post Lauren.

jo oliver said...
4 August 2010 at 21:05  

The French Alcatraz- wow!

Steve said...
17 February 2012 at 14:53  

The castle is really unique mostly because of its location. Albeit a bit crowded for my taste, but it is well worth visiting for anybody who passes by Marseille

Anonymous said...
30 March 2012 at 17:13  

Es fascinante la historia del Conde de Monte Cristo me gustaria un dia conocer esta prision.

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