Palais de l’Île – Annecy, France - Atlas Obscura

Palais de l’Île

Annecy, France

A fortified palace in the shape of a ship on the Thiou river. 


The Palais de l’Île from Pont Perrière in Annecy separates the Thiou river into two canals, this picturesque fortified house resembles the bow of a stone ship. Almost demolished to make way for baths in the late 1800s, it has become one the most iconic buildings in Annecy.

The building dates back to the 1100s and for hundreds of years it was a residence handed down by the noble families of the County of Geneva. The stronghold was referred to for the first time in 1325 as a prison when the lord of Annecy paid Jean de Monthoux, the lord of Isle, for food for two prisoners.

In 1355, Count Amadeus III of Geneva was awarded “the right to mint gold and silver on his land” and it later became a minting workshop, but ceased activity by the end of the 14th century.

At the end of the 16th century the house, which sheltered the courthouse, became known as the Palais de Justice de l’Ile. After the 18th century, the building was used for administrative functions, but also continued to be used as a prison up until 1864 when a new prison was built. The Palais de l’Ile became a home for the elderly between 1865 and 1880.

In the late 1800s, the building was saved from demolition and used temporarily as a school for stone carvers and carpenters, a gymnasium, and accommodation.

On February 16, 1900, the Palais de l’Ile was listed as a historic monument. Today it contains exhibitions about Annecy’s architecture and heritage, and you can take a look around the old courtroom, dungeon, cells, and chapel.

Know Before You Go

The best view of the building is from the bridge.

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