Fort Royal & “The Man with the Iron Mask”

Fort Royal & “The Man with the Iron Mask”

At Fort Royal, the legendary Man with the Iron Mask was imprisoned for 11 years. Today, the fort houses the Cannes Sea Museum and is a city-must-xee gem not to be missed.

The fantastic Fort Royal built on roman fortifications

Built on Roman remains

Fort Royal was built between 1624 – 1627 on the site of a Roman rainwater tanks system and ancient bath. At that time, the fort was a fairly simple building and although it was heavily expanded around 1636, it was under Vauban that the fort was extended to the fort we see today with its star-shaped construction, which is very similar to Fort Carré in Antibes.

The sights of the fort
The fort contains a number of interesting things to look forward to: the 17th century chapel, the barracks buildings, the Bazaine terrace, the Méditerranoscope (a small marine biology aquarium), the Cannes Sea Museum, which also contains the ancient prison, and the ancient Roman cisterns.

The barracks buildings at Fort Royal – © cityxee.com

The Man with the Iron Mask
The big draw in the prison section is, of course, the cell where the mysterious prisoner, the Man with the Iron Mask, was imprisoned for 11 years. This prisoner has throughout history been immortalized by writers and filmmakers, from Voltaire to Randall Wallace’s 1998 film “The Man in the Iron Mask”.

Randall Wallace’s 1998 film about the Man with the Iron Mask

Today, more than 350 years since the arrest of the most mythical prisoner in world history, speculation about his identity is still widespread. However, recent research suggests that the man’s name was Eustache Dauger, an ordinary man born in 1637.

Same prison guard through 34 years
The reason for his arrest in 1669 must be found in his political involvement and he ended up in prison for 34 years – and particularly notable with the same prison guard throughout the years.

The prison guard was named Bénigne Dauvergne de Saint-Mars and, when he changed prisons, the prisoner followed. When Dauvergne became governor of the Lérins islands in 1687, he took his famous prisoner with him.

There are many suggestions as to why the prisoner should wear an iron mask. One tells that it was a trick from Dauvergne so he could impress the crowds with the importance of the prisoner he had with him.

One of the speculations was that the mysterious man was the king’s twin brother – © cityxee.com

It was after this time that rumors of the man with the iron mask began to circulate. One of the most persistent speculations was that it was King Louis XIV’s twin brother and that this was the reason why he had to hide behind a mask. Here illustrated by a poster in the prison corridor at Fort Royal.

By Tommy Sverre / 2021

Picture gallery of the prison cells:

Other experiences in Cannes
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Monuments

Statue of Lord Brougham – Cannes’ “father”

Few have meant as much to Cannes as the English aristocrat and politician Lord Henry Brougham, whose statue adorns the basin of the avenue de la Liberté.

Events

The International Film Festival in Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival is known worldwide and one of the most important film awards in the film industry. Was founded in 1939 and can celebrate its 75th birthday this year.

Art

Cannes Underwater Museum

Cannes has got France’s first underwater museum, which is wildly fascinating in every way. 6 great sculptures below the sea surface connect…

Squares & Promenades

Le Suquet – The old town

Here in the heart of old Cannes, the city shows its true soul. Here you find Le Suquet – the old town – a medieval area nestled on the hilltop of Mont-Chevalier. With its cobbled alleys, is one of Cannes city-must-xee places.

Boat trips

Boat trips to Lérins Islands

If you want to visit the fantastic islands of Lérins, Saint-Marguerite and Saint-Honorat, you can sail there from Nice, Cannes and Golfe-Juan respectively.

Squares & Promenades

La Croisette Promenade

The promenade at La Croisette is one of the most valued experiences in Cannes – it is the gathering point for mythical hotels, the casino, the Film Festival and…

Art

La Malmaison Art Center

Great art welcomes you in historic premises that used to be part of the Grand Hotel. In 1863, when the hotel was built, this building served as a games room and tea room.

Excursions

Excurtions Cannes

Book your excursions safely with free cancellation. We have selected the most popular excursions for you right here.

Art

Bellini Chapel

This beautiful chapel completely surprises, filled with art and dedicated to one of Cannes’ beloved artists, Emmanuel Bellini.

Markets

Forville Market

With its 3000 m2 and approx. 50 stalls, the market invites you inside to some of the best the Riviera has to offer in Provencal and Italian …

Museums

Cannes Sea Museum

Cannes Sea Museum, Musée de la Mer, is located on the small island of Sainte-Marguerite. It is located in a unique historic setting in the old Fort Royal.

Boat trips

Lérins Islands

Just a stone’s throw from La Croisette, on the opposite side of the Bay of Cannes, are the islands of Lérins. They consist of 4 islands, of which île Saint-Marguerite …

Art

Musée de la Castre

Located high on top of Le Suquet, in the medieval castle originally inhabited by the monks of Lérins, the Museum of World Discovery overlooks the Croisette.

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