The Château d'If is a former fortress built in 1524 on the tiny island of If,
in front of Marseille;it became a state prison in the 17th century.
The novel of Alexander Dumas "The count of Monte Christo" has made it famous.
Having made his watery escape after five years of incarceration
as the innocent victim of treachery,
the hero of the piece, Edmond Dantès, describes the island thus:
"Blacker than the sea, blacker than the sky,
rose like a phantom the giant of granite,
whose projecting crags seemed like arms extended to seize their prey".
The reality, for most prisoners, was worse:
they went insane or died (and sometimes both)
before reaching the end of their sentences.
Only the nobles living in the less fetid upper-storey cells
had much chance of survival,
like de Niozelles, who was given six years
for failing to take his hat off in the presence of Louis XIV,
and Mirabeau, who was doing time for debt.
This photo is part of my visual diary about my trip to Marseille.
If you feel like to see the whole gallery, please...