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The If-Castle

Until the 16th century, If is an uninhabited island and the occasional haven of fishermen. It is François I, who, during a visit to Marseille in 1516, assesses its strategic importance and gives the order to build a fortress on it.

In a very short time, the fortress changes its purpose and becomes a prison. Rebels, ruffians and refractory galley slaves stayed there for more or less long periods.

From 1689 onwards, the Protestants are thrown en masse into the unhealthy dungeons where many of them die. However, the fortress offers quite decent living conditions to distinguished prisoners.

The most famous prisoner was without José Custodio Faria, whom Alexandre Dumas immortalized in the Count of Monte Cristo. After having received the revels of 1848 and the communards of 1871, the fortress lost its prison character and was opened to the public in 1890. As regards Edmond Dantès, the Count of Monte Christo, the chronicle of If has no trace of his imprisonment. On the other hand, the hole which he dug in the wall of one of the cells is still very visible.

The Château d'If can be visited thanks to a regular boat service and welcomes every year more than 90 000 visitors.
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