For any bookworm who read Alexandre Dumas’ novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, Château d’If is a must. A short ferry ride from Vieux Port, it is located on the island of If. Built as a fortress in the 16th century, later it became a feared and infamous prison (mainly for political and religious prisoners); it’s now open for tours. For those uninterested in books or history, the island offers beautiful views of Marseille and the sea. For a small fee, you can tour the prison, the island, and museum.
Interesting of history bites: In 1513 an Indian Rhinoceros, that was intended as a gift to the King of Portugal from the sultan of Gujarat, who the King then offered to Pope Leo X, had a brief stay on the island of If. Needless to say, the rhino became a huge attraction, (even Albrecht Durer made an engraving of it). Unfortunately, the poor thing didn’t make it to his final destination, and perished in a ship wreck during a storm after leaving the island. It’s corpse was stuffed and offered to the Pope as such.