Once the capital of the province of Aquitaine at the end of the Roman Empire, capital of the Kingdom of France in the reign of Charles VII, Bourges carefully maintains its heritage from a glorious past, located in the center of France on the Yèvre river. It is the capital of the department of Cher and also was the capital of the former province of Berry. Random factoid: the city Bourges gave birth to the term bourgeois(e), the word was originally used in reference to the inhabitants of the city of Bourges.
Bourges most notable monument hands down is the Cathedral of St Etienne. Built between the late 12th and late 13th centuries, it is one of the great masterpieces of Gothic art and is admired for its proportions and the unity of its design. The tympanum, sculptures and stained-glass windows are awe-inspiring. Apart from the beauty of the architecture, it attests to the power of Christianity in medieval France.
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Château d’If is a famous castle in southern France. It stands atop a small limestone island opposite the harbor of Marseille. The “château” is a square, three-story building 28m (92ft) long on each side, flanked by three towers with large gunembrasures on 3 hectars of land.
Built by Francis I in 1524-31, the castle was used for 400 years as a state prison. Located on the smallest island in the Frioul archipelago situated in the Mediterranean Sea, and it is famous for being one of the settings of Alexandre Dumas’ adventure novel, The Count of Monte Cristo.
Originally built as a naval fortress, the island was chosen for its strategic position as a defense for the city of Marseille. On every hill was built a military fort, batteries, trenches, and observation posts scattered throughout the archipelago. The Château d’If was converted to a prison in 1516…
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