How a big rhinoceros ended up on If island

Durer's rhinoDurer's rhino | © Max Braun / CC-BY-SA

1516. King of France François I came back from Marignan and stopped in Marseille. Well, well, well… he discovered a little wild island, near the harbour! François wanted a place to raise a citadel to protect the city… He went there with a boat, landed, put the foot on dry land.

And he saw… a rhinoceros! A big Indian rhinoceros king of Portugal Manuel I wanted to offer to pope Leon X! A creature who waited his departure for the Vatican on the island. But when the moment came, a storm destroyed the boat: the drowned rhinoceros was stuffed and they gave it to the pope.

You know what? Famous German painter Durer drew it in 1515! And 8 years later, they raised the fortress: the castle’s name comes from the numerous yew trees (if in French) we found here on the island.