Monaco Attractions

Monaco harborMonaco harbor Glen Scarborough

The old town of Monaco, at the eastern end of the Cote d'Azur, close to the Italian border, is a principality. It was founded in 1297 by the Genoese noble family of Grimaldi and until 1861 also took in Menton and Roquebrune. To this day it is still ruled by princes belonging to the Grimaldi dynasty (since 2005 Prince Albert II). Monaco is important today not only as an economic center, but also as an inexhaustible topic of interest for the world's popular press.

Monaco, formally the Principality of Monaco, has an area of 1.95sq.km/0.75sq.mi, making it the second smallest European state after the Vatican City. The population, which is predominantly Catholic, consists of indigenous Monacans (around 17%, with their own local dialect, Monegasco, which is a mixture of Provençal and Ligurian), French (about 50%), Italians (about 20%) and the remainder made up of other nationalities. Residence on the rock of Monaco itself is reserved for the local Monagasques.

Jardin Exotique

Jardin ExotiqueJardin Exotique

The Jardin Exotique (Exotic Garden) is one of the most impressive of its kind. Because of the favorable climate, with little variation in conditions on the constantly warm and damp steep slope, a great variety of the most delicate, and in some cases unique, tropical plants thrive in the Exotic Garden. In the grottoes, beautiful fossils can be seen. In the park there is also the interesting Musée d'Anthropologie Préhistorique (Museum of Prehistory and Anthropology), which not only exhibits bones discovered in the area but also a collection of coins, ornamental objects, etc. from the pre-Roman and Roman periods in particular.

To the north of the museum lies the Parc Princesse Antoinette.

Address: 62 boulevard du Jardin Exotique, France

Monte-Carlo, France

Monte CarloMonte Carlo Andrea Anastasakis

The district of Monte-Carlo occupies a rocky promontory to the north of the Port of Monaco and it is a popular tourist destination. Its most elevated part is crossed by streets with shops and offices, including the Boulevard Princesse Charlotte (in the west, the headquarters of Radio/Télévision Monte-Carlo), the Boulevard des Moulins (pavilion of the Office de Tourisme at its southwestern end; a short distance to the north is the Church of St-Charles of 1883), and the Avenue de la Costa with its many luxury shops.

Monte Carlo is most noted for its glamourous atmosphere as it is considered Monaco's wealthiest district. The glamour also attracts famous people, who in turn attract visitors to Monte Carlo for "people watching".

There are a number of notable events hosted by Monte Carlo such as the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, championship boxing bouts and fashion shows to name a few.

Les Spélugues

The large-scale complex of the Congress Center (called Les Spélugues) was opened in 1978. The boulevard Louis II runs under the massive building which has been constructed of elements on a hexagonal plan and includes the 636-room Hotel "Loews" and 100 apartments. On the highest roof-level, of which there is an excellent view from the terrace. There is a striking mosaic composed of colored tiles, which was designed in 1979 by Victor Vasarély and has the title "Hexagrace - Le Ciel, la Mer, la Terre". The Fondation Vasarély in Aix-en-Provence was responsible for its execution.

Larvotto

In the southwest of the district of Larvotto stands the Center Culturel et des Expositions. In the avenue Princess Grace can be found the "Musée National des Automates et Poupées d'Autrefois (museum of mechanical toys and dolls), housed in a villa of the Belle Epoque. On view are several hundred dolls, more than 80 automatons and over 2,000 miniature objects, the purpose of which is to depict life in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the garden there are sculptures by Zadkine, Maillol, Rodin and Bourdeille.

Monte-Carlo Rally

The Monte-Carlo Rally is the most famous road rally in the world. Competitors can choose the location from several European cities to commence their rally, then they meet at a common point to complete the remainder of the journey, primarily through France to Monte Carlo. It's a winter event so the vagaries of the Alpine winter weather add to the challenge.

Monaco-Ville

With its narrow streets Monaco-Ville, the oldest district and seat of the Bishop, dominates a broad picturesque peninsula jutting out into the sea. Here much evidence of earlier fortification is to be seen.

Musée Océanographique

The Jardins de St-Martin in Monaco extend along the coast round the peninsula with a steep cliff on the seaward side, near which stands a statue commemorating Prince Albert I, celebrated as a marine researcher. At the end of the gardens is the Musée Océanographique (marine museum); the facade facing the sea is 87m/286ft high and rests on massive foundations. The museum, which was opened in 1910 and took 11 years to build, houses valuable scientific collections (objects from Prince Albert's journeys of exploration, finds, submarines and diving equipment of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, slides of marine plants and animals), also an important aquarium, laboratory and library and exhibits of model ships and educational film shows, especially about Jacques-Yves Cousteau. From the roof terrace (restaurant) it is possible to enjoy a superb view of the Italian Riviera as far as the Esterel Massif (also visible from Fort Antoine on the east of the peninsula).
On the western slope of the cliff is the Center d'Acclimatation Zoologique (a center for animal acclimatization, a kind of zoo with tropical and African fauna), established in 1954.
Address: Avenue Saint-Martin, F-98000 Monaco, France

Place du Palais

In the western part of Monaco lies the Place du Palais with its bronze cannons dating from the time of Louis XIV; from here there is a beautiful view of Monte-Carlo. Dominating the square is the Palais du Prince, built in the 13th C. as a Genoese fortress. The changing of the guard takes place every day at 11.55am. Apart from providing this display, the Prince's Guard is also responsible for the security of the Prince and his family and also appears at major events.
In the Palais there are splendid apartments, including the throne-room in Empire style, the York bedroom (18th C.) and beautiful 17th C. frescos (Genoese work). Tours take place when the Prince and his family are absent (in which case the Prince's flag on the Tour Ste-Marie is not raised).
During the summer months concerts take place in the palace courtyard.
Address: Place du Palais, France

Musée Napoléonien et des Archives Monegasques

In the Palace Museum can be seen many mementos of Napoleon I, a stamp collection and a rock sample from the moon.
Address: Place du Palais, France

Monaco Cathedral

The Rue du Tribunal in Monaco leads from the palace to the cathedral, built between 1875 and 1884 in the Romanesque-Byzantine style. A chapel to St Nicolas, dating from 1252, was pulled down to make way for the building of the cathedral. Inside can be seen an altarpiece by Louis Bréa (C.1500), other works of the Nice School, as well as tombs of the princes (burial place of the Princes of Monaco) and bishops. The grave of Princess Grace is also to be found here.
Opposite stands the Palais de Justice (lawcourts) and nearby the Historial des Princes (historical collection), as well as the notable Chapelle de la Miséricorde of 1639; the first provost of the penitential monks resident here was Prince Honoré II. Inside there is a wooden statue of Christ, by François-Joseph Bosio, official sculptor of Napoleon, born in 1769 in Monaco (d.1845 in Paris).

Monaco Formula 1 World Championship

The Formula 1 World Championship Grand Prix auto race is held in May and June.
It is the original street race and is the considered the jewel in the Formula One crown. The narrow streets are totally unsuited to today's Formula One race cars but the tradition is so strong that the race continues. They have been racing here since early in the 20th century. Monaco is the home of all the "Beautiful People" who always show with up their largest yachts, their largest Ferrari and their most outlandish clothes. Good viewing spots for the race are hard to come by and expensive but it's worth going just for the ambiance. If you get tired of motorcars, the Cannes film festival is just down the coast.

Centre de Rencontres and la Condamine

Near the northern mole of the Monaco harbor in the Avenue d'Ostende can be found the Centre de Rencontres Internationales, an international meeting place with a roof terrace.
The Boulevard Albert I is the main street of the district of La Condamine. In this quarter of the town there are a large number of businesses, shops and public buildings (railroad station, library, market). In the ravine-like valley cleft on the northern edge of the town, below a road bridge stands the little Church of Ste-Dévote, dedicated to the patron saint of the town. The church has a fine 18th C. marble altar.

Salle Garnier, Opéra de Monte-Carlo

Charles Garnier is best known for the opera house that bears his name in Paris but he also designed the magnificent and extravagantly, decorated Salle Garnier in Monte Carlo which opened in 1879. As it seats only 524, it is often difficult to get tickets. The season is also a short one, running from mid-January to the end of March. Tickets go on sale in early January and can be ordered by writing to: Service Location, Opera de Monte-Carlo, B.P. 139, Monte-Carlo 98007, Monaco.
Address: Box 139, F-98007 Monte-Carlo, France

Monaco Harbor

At the foot of the cliff, lies the busy, almost square-shaped, harbor which was constructed between 1901 and 1926. Large numbers of yachts, including from time to time the Prince's private vessel, are to be seen here. On the western side of the harbor, near the Boulevard Albert I, is the modern Stade Nautique Rainier III, a stadium for water sports.

Moneghetti

Seemingly endless steps and roads with hairpin bends climb up the eastern slope of the Tête de Chien to the Moyenne Corniche. These roads give access to the district of Moneghetti in the west of the principality, a part of the town which is built on terraces with fine villas and gardens.

Museum of the Chapel of the Visitation

Housed in a baroque style chapel dating from the 7th century, is home to part of the remarkable collection of sacred works of art belonging to Mrs. Piasecka Johnson.

Prince of Monaco's Private Collection of Classic Cars

Over one hundred vintage and veteran motorcars made by some of Europe's most prestigious firms.

Fireworks

Monaco hosts the International Fireworks Festival in July and August.

Wax Museum of the Princes of Monaco

The wax figures are life-size, and many of them wear authentic period costumes.

Surroundings

Trophée des Alpes

La Turbie is dominated by a feature visible from afar, the Trophée des Alpes, also called the "Trophée d'Auguste". This is a monument near Monaco which was erected to the Emperor Augustus by the Roman Senate in 6 B.C. as a memorial to the suppression of the Alpine tribes. In the 14th C. the monument was converted into a fortress and in 1705 blown up (with little success) by Louis XV during the War of the Spanish Succession. About 1930 restoration was begun to which the monument owes its present appearance. The funds were provided by an American and his wife. The grounds around the monument have been laid out as a park and from the steep south and south-eastern sides offer a marvelous view of the coast.

Peillon

Peillon, situated at an altitude of 376m/1,234ft in the hinterland of Monaco (5km/3mi as the crow flies), is probably one of the finest examples of a Provençal "nid d'aigle". In the Chapel of Notre-Dame de la Madone-des-Douleurs (Chapel of the White Monks) there are frescos by Canavesi (15th/16th C.). In August the Fêtes du Vieux Village take place.

La Turbie, France

The picturesque old township of La Turbie is situated on the saddle between a ridge of the Tête de Chien and the Mont de la Bataille, 8km/5mi to the northwest of Monaco. In the Baroque church of St-Michel-Archange (St Michael Archangel; second half of 18th C.) there is a most remarkable communion rail made of agate and onyx, two paintings by Jean-Baptiste van Loo, a pietà of the school of Bréa and a fine High Altar of colored marble, which was used during the French Revolution in Nice. Both town gates are relics of the fortification begun in the 13th C.

Alpine Trophy

The Alpine Trophy is a Roman monument that stands 35 m tall on a square base with an inscription to Augustus Caesar and a list of 44 conquered peoples. The trophy originally stood 49 meters high with a giant statue of the Emperor.
Address: Avenue Albert 1er, F-06320 La Turbie, France

Peille, France

Peille is a beautiful "village perché" (perched on a rock), situated 630m/2,067ft high above the River Peillon. The village is noted for the narrow streets and medieval architecture. The local Romanesque church dating from the 12th C. boasts a rose martyry (16th C.) as well as beautiful naive paintings. Over the village of Peille tower the ruins of a 13th C. castle.

Cap d'Ail

At the foot of the Tête de Chien amid sparse pine-woods lies the holiday resort of Cap d'Ail (2km/1mi to the southeast of Monaco). Of interest are the ruins of the Tour d'Abeglio and the open air theater, designed by Jean Cocteau and decorated with mosaics. Several rocky promontories jut out into the sea near Cap d'Ail.

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