The Château d'If
is a fortress (later a prison) located on the island of If, the smallest island in the Frioul Archipelago
situated in the Mediterranean Sea
about a mile offshore in the Bay of Marseille
in southeastern France. It is famous for being one of the settings of Alexandre Dumas'
adventure novel The Count of Monte Cristo
The "château" is a square, three-story building 28 m long on each side, flanked by three towers with large gun embrasures. It was built in 1524-31 on the orders of King Francis I,
who, during a visit in 1516, saw the island as a strategically
important location for defending the coastline from sea-based attacks.
However, its construction was extremely controversial. When Marseille
was annexed to France in 1481, it retained the right to provide for its
own defence. The castle was therefore seen by many of the local
inhabitants as an unwanted imposition of central authority.
The castle's principal military value was as a deterrent; it never
had to fight off an actual attack. The closest that it came to a genuine
test of strength was in July 1531, when the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V made preparations to attack Marseille. However, he abandoned the invasion plan, perhaps deterred by the presence of the castle.
The cell named after Edmond Dantès
at the Château d'If
The Palais Longchamp
is a monument in the 4th arrondissement
. It houses the city's musée des beaux-arts
and natural history museum
. The surrounding park (the Parc Longchamp
) is listed by the French Ministry of Culture as one of the Notable Gardens of France