If you’re in a Euro-trip, make sure you take time to visit the Principality of Monaco. This city truly is a rare pearl washed ashore on to the southwestern European coast. For its size, the city has quite a lot to offer, from great entertainment to a plethora of beautiful sights.
Monaco is a mix of the old and the new. On one hand, you’ll find age old architecture and a medieval stone fortress. On the other, you’ll see modern high rises that seem to compete with the aesthetics of the older edifices. From this you can judge that the Grimaldi House has done its job well, having introduced modern innovation without necessarily displacing its precedents.
Looking at the Monegasque cityscape, you’ll notice one huge rock that dominates the horizon. This huge hunk of stone is aptly called Le Rocher (The Rock), also known in its more proper name as Monaco-ville. Now Monaco-ville is not the capital of Monaco in any known sense – it is but one of the city’s four traditional divisions, and is not even a full-fledged town given its modern ward status.
From a distance, Monaco-ville looks like an impregnable fortified hill town from the Middle Ages. A closer look reveals a mix of modern and bygone architecture behind the city’s age old walls. Almost obscured in this blend are several important Monaco travel hotspots. Such are the following.
Chapelle de la Misericorde
Literally meaning the “chapel of graciousness”, the Chapelle de la Misericorde ranks among the oldest structures in the entire principality. Having been built in 1639, the chapel is a masterpiece from its elaborately designed interior to its well-maintained façade. The chapel’s highlight comes every Good Friday eve, as it is the starting point of a local, religious procession.
Inaugurated by Prince Albert I in 1901, the Oceanographic Museum is an impressively artistic architectural work that dominates Monaco-ville’s coastline. The museum houses an aquarium and various skeletal and preserved remains of marine fauna.
Saint Nicholas Cathedral
The Saint Nicholas Cathedral, also known in its long French name as Cathédrale Notre-Dame-Immaculée, is another magnificent building. Consecrated in 1875, the cathedral has since become a resting place for members of the Grimaldi House. It’s most notable features include the white marble Episcopal Throne, the church’s retablo, and the Great Altar. Pontifical services are held in this house of worship during religious festivals.
Last but not the least is the Palais Princier, the home of the Prince of Monaco himself. This structure, arguably one of the most important Monaco travel destinations, stands out when compared to other European royal residences. The Grimaldi palace, instead of demonstrating pomp and rich aesthetics, is instead built with the protection a castle can offer in mind. In other words the Palais is more like a fortification, owing to its history of having been frequently besieged by other states. The palace has seen much renovation throughout its history, serving as the reflection of the Grimaldis’ increasing power and wealth.
These are but the major attractions in a rather small section of the principality. If you take time to explore the city, you’ll be able to find more of these Monaco travel destinations that can surely satisfy that craving for awe-inspiring sights.