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The If Castle is a fortress located offshore of Marseille, on an island in the Frioul archipelago, between the Island of Pomègues and the Island of Ratonneau.
Built by François 1er in the 16th century and made popular by Alexandre Dumas' novel, "The Count of Monte Cristo", the If Castle was originally a fort used to protect the coast from invasions by sea and was meant to provide anchorage for the new royal fleet. The strategic location of the castle and its impenetrable structure meant that it soon became used as a prison. For nearly four centuries, it served to incarcerate political figures, revolutionaries and famous names such as the Count of Mirabeau and General Jean-Baptiste Kléber. Legend has it that the Marquis de Sade was also imprisoned there.
The If Castle is now one of the most frequently visited sites in Marseille. Starting from the Concorde Villa Massalia Hotel, visitors can reach the ferry dock for the Frioul Islands, which is part of the docks in the Old Port. The crossing takes about thirty minutes. A tour of the castle begins with the fabled prison cells of Edmond Dantès and Abbé Farias, of "the Count of Monte Cristo", then continues on the upper floor with the cells set aside for the more fortunate, the towers and the dungeon, and takes visitors on a journey into a shadowy and picturesque realm of history where reality converges with legend.