Chateau d'If: the prison fortress of the “romanic” image

An interesting time has come now: the achievements of science and technology right before our eyes wean people from books. First-year students come to me, of whom nobody read “The Fight for Fire” by J.Rony Sr. and who can barely read two chapters (!) Of this children's book in two weeks. But the second year is the same. True, these are future engineers. But do not engineers need intelligence and developed brains, and the latter are just developing reading? Well, let alone ask about something more meaningful, for example, the novel by A. Dumas “The Count of Monte Cristo” and from my side, well, simply “indecent”. After all, he is "so fat"! Meanwhile, in spite of all its uncannyness, this is not only interesting, but also very instructive reading, which made previously unknown land in the middle of the harbor of Marseilles very popular, and an equally little known fortification, located "God knows where." No one knew much about the castle of If, and certainly not interested in them, until in 1844 – 1845. the famous French writer Alexander Dumas did not write his novel "The Count of Monte-Cristo", where he vividly described the long-term imprisonment of his main character by the name of Edmond Danthes precisely ... in the castle of If.

Castle If. View in sunny weather.

View of the castle at sunset

This novel soon became one of perhaps the most popular works of French literature, therefore, as soon as 1890 was opened for visitors, the flow of tourists from all over the world immediately went there. To be in Marseilles and not to visit the castle of If? Do you yourself imagine how this? Why then go there at all ?!

Naturally, the city authorities "responded" to the cultural requests of both their own and foreign citizens and opened a museum in the castle. They began to conduct tours of the chambers, opened a brisk souvenir trade, and in the open area of ​​the castle equipped a cafe with a beautiful view of Marseille.

View of the castle from the side of Marseille.

Following the popular slogan “everything is for you for your money”, on the first floor of the If castle, to the delight of tourists, the “Edmond Dantes chamber” was opened, in which, according to the idea of ​​the great Dumas, Edmon Dantès spent entire 14 years. Moreover, the chamber of Dantes, as in the novel, is connected by a manhole to the semi-basement room without windows, which served as the camera to Abbe Faria. It has a TV set that constantly shows the scene of the meeting between Dantes and Faria from various screen versions (and they were filmed, well, just a lot in different years) of this novel.

Model of the fortifications of the castle of If’s in his museum.

Figure of island fortifications in 1641 year.

Interestingly, on the second floor of the castle there is a chamber in which the mysterious prisoner Iron Mask was allegedly kept, although according to the novel of the same Dumas, the island of St. Marguerite became the last prisoner. On this occasion, the French historian Alain Decaux once said that "The popularity of the Chateau d'If is exceptionally high thanks to two prisoners: the Iron Mask, which never was there, and Edmon Dantès, who never existed."

The entrance to the castle itself.

However, the fortress on the dazzling white island in the middle of the bay is interesting not only by this brilliant fiction. It has its own, "serf", and also very, very interesting history. To begin with, the natural geographical location of this small island with an area of ​​just under 30 000 square meters was very advantageous. Even during the Middle Ages, the city of Marseille with enviable regularity was attacked from the sea, well, a small island of If became the ideal place where pirates, conquerors and robbers could take a break before the "case" or fear no one to share the loot. The island of If was also described by Gaius Julius Caesar himself, and Caesar described him as a small island “on which a different rabble was constantly gathered.”

The courtyard of the castle with a well.

So that the “rabble” was not there, King Francis I decided to build an impregnable fortress on it in 1516, which could protect Marseille from attacks from the sea. The beginning of the work falls on 1524 year, well, the whole order of the monarch managed to execute only seven years later. So already in 1531, on the island of If, there was a fortress of the most intimidating form. And the fact that the castle’s view was indeed “intimidating” is proved by the fact that even such a great commander as Charles V did not dare to storm Marcel, knowing that the entrance to his harbor was guarded by the castle of If.

The entrances to the upper chamber.

Yes, yes, the castle of If, in fact, was never attacked! Meanwhile, the fortress built on the island more played the role of “scarecrow” for the enemies of Marseille, than it was a real “combat unit”. The fact is that they built it hastily and in violation of all the rules of the then military architecture. According to one of the most respected military engineers of the time, namely Vauban himself, this fortress, although it was an impressive structure, was of extremely dubious value. Its walls were made of local fragile stone, the garrison was placed small, so, in his opinion, it could be taken in just a few hours or even simply destroyed by cannon shots.

One of the fortress towers.

They listened to Vauban’s words, but did not rebuild the fortress, but in 1582, they turned it into a prison. There was sent a certain chevalier Anselm, accused of conspiracy against the king. He did not suffer for long there: soon, according to the surviving documents, he was found dead in a cell and, according to the official version, he died of suffocation. That's just he did it himself or who helped him, and remains an unexplained mystery.

Замок Иф: крепость-тюрьма «романического» образа

The entrance to the dungeon.

The premises of the museum.

After the abolition of the famous edict of Nantes in the castle of If, they began to plant Protestants, who at that time were considered by the state to be their most bitter enemies. There is evidence that over the 200 years, more than 3500 Huguenots “visited” the castle, most of whom died there due to the terrible conditions of their detention. So the castle of If became the most terrible prison of the Old World, and soon they began to talk about him not only in France, but also far beyond its borders.

Camera Edmond Danthes.

Although the castle did not possess fortifications, it turned out that it was just what was needed as a prison. The fact is that most of the internal premises there were cut down right in the rocky base of the island, and only a few structures were built on the surface. The coast of the island was surrounded by sharp stones, so jumping from the cliffs into the sea, and then it was almost impossible for a fugitive prisoner to reach Marseille. Moreover, in its coastal zone there are strongest currents that even a physically strong swimmer, not to mention prisoners exhausted in the castle walls, cannot cope with.

Inside view of Edmond Dantes' camera.

Laz in the camera of the abbot Faria also has ...

Perhaps that is why, since 1580, the Chateau Ife has become the place of imprisonment for many truly famous people of his time: politicians, noblemen and military leaders. They contained, for example, Count Mirabeau, now laid to rest in the walls of the Pantheon, and ... Jean-Baptiste Chateau - the captain of a large sailing vessel, accused of having brought plague to Marseille in 1720 that caused the death of many city dwellers.

It is clear that at that time the famous captain did not know anything about germs and plague fleas, and therefore could not have thought that he was taking such a terrible disease to his hometown, but was nevertheless condemned to imprisonment in the castle of If. General Kléber, one of the ideological inspirers of the Great French Revolution, was also contained in the Château d'If, but already ... dead! He was taken to the place of his imprisonment already dead, but his coffin continued to be in the dungeon of the island for 17 (!) Years.

View of Marseille.

In addition to political prisoners and Protestants, the castle actually contained the most dangerous criminals - maniacs, poisoners, fighters and female killers. Usually, all this “rabble” was kept in the “pit” - this was the name of the lower chambers of the castle. These cells had no windows, no ventilation, and were not even lit with torches. One can only try to imagine what the person who was there 10 had felt for years. And they could put there not only for robbery, but also for a less terrible crime: it depended on the state of the "villain" wallet.

If his relatives had money, they could send him to the upper chamber, from the windows of which the sea could be seen and the sound of the surf could be heard. Well, and if they didn’t have the money, they let him down to the “lower floors,” the only way out of which was death. Moreover, the bodies of the deceased prisoners were really thrown from the rocks of the island into the sea, and the coarse fabric really served them as a mortal shroud — everything, as described in Dumas’s novel, and he described this terrible ritual that took place in the If’s castle almost every day. in detail is what literary skill is!

View of the island from Marseille.

Officially, the prison in the castle of If was closed in the middle of the 1830's. After 40, for years, it was again “relaxed” and members of the Paris Commune were sent there. And one of its leaders and ideologists Gaston Cremieu was shot right here on the island. And this, fortunately, was the last victim of the castle of If. Well, already in 1926, the castle was given the status of an architectural monument, so its gloomy past was finished now forever!

Pier on the island.

Today, it’s not difficult to see the island for tourists: in the summer, every 20 minutes from the “Old Port” in Marseille, a boat goes there, but in the winter you have to wait an hour for 1,5. A trip to the If castle is paid, but the ticket price is only 10 euros, that is, by European standards, this is pennies. You can go there as part of one of the tourist groups, and you can negotiate with the carrier and privately, and even with a Russian-speaking guide, but only for the corresponding cost.

Tourist boat.

On the island itself, you can sunbathe and swim in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, but in summer this small island is usually crowded with people, so that it can be even closer on the coves near the water than on the beaches of Anapa!
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  1. +5
    29 September 2016 07: 50
    Interestingly, there are no more maps drawn on the wall indicating where the treasures lie.
  2. +4
    29 September 2016 07: 57
    the novel by A. Dumas “The Count of Monte Cristo” is completely “indecent” on my part. After all, he is “so fat”!
    ... Dumas, I was forced to write such "thick" novels ... that's how they were published in newspapers ... And so that the circulation would be sold out ... the novel must be "thick" ... Now the newspapers no longer publish novels .. .Thanks for the morning walk around the Chateau d'If.
  3. +1
    29 September 2016 08: 26
    The well, on a small island in the sea, is in doubt. If only as a container for collecting rainwater. I wonder how many people at a time could be in the castle. Perhaps the proximity of Marseille also played a role.
  4. +4
    29 September 2016 08: 31
    Thank. Twice I was close to Marseilles, but did not call in - friends
    scared of crime. Probably in vain. The castle is very colorful.
    And the novel by Dumas in childhood was one of the most beloved.
  5. +2
    29 September 2016 09: 41
    They listened to Vauban, but did not begin to rebuild the fortress, and already in 1582 they turned it into a prison.
    It is written incorrectly -Vauban lived 100 later, under Louis 14
  6. +3
    29 September 2016 11: 26
    For some reason, this is how I imagined him in my childhood! Awful casemates, how people could live there, it's horror! Our IR, and even the Stalinist Gulags "are resting".
  7. +2
    29 September 2016 13: 01
    Alcatraz of the 16th century)))) only medieval Al Capone is not enough))
    1. +3
      29 September 2016 23: 01
      And Monte Cristo in the novel kept in touch and patronized smugglers and robbers. What is not the "godfather"))
  8. +1
    30 September 2016 05: 20
    Nearby is a very pretty island (for the boat from the Old Port it is the end) with a yacht club (God bless him, not for us) and a set of no less attractive inexpensive two-story hotels.
    Was there in the fall - and in the summer it seems, indeed, a paradise.
    1. 0
      30 September 2016 20: 59
      Have you been long? An indispensable question, I wanted to go, but the aforementioned level of crime is annoying
    2. +1
      1 October 2016 10: 07
      I did not have time to feel the crime - I was on a cruise ship last year, we stopped by the day. He wandered around the city without a hitch, bypassing the sleeping clooshars (homeless people) sleeping on the sidewalk. The color population is clearly more white. Of course, I didn’t look at the whole city, I hope someday to drive separately through the south of France.
      One of our compatriots, deciding to save on a shuttle (bus from the pier to the city), fussed with her husband to the city bus (about two kilometers). The bus was taken to a black neighborhood, they got out of there for about three hours. smile But we got out safe and sound!
  9. 0
    30 September 2016 21: 02
    Bravo, Vyacheslav!

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