Monaco-ville – A Monaco Travel Hotspot

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.

Oceanographic Museum

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.

Palais Princier

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.

Monaco Palace: The Dwelling of the Prince

The Principality of Monaco, like many other major European cities that draw tourists from all over, is a good mix of the old and the new. Stretched in a small, 2.05 km2 area, this independent Monegasque city state sports a contrast between vintage, centuries old structures and stylish modern high rises.

Monaco is divided into ten wards, or a collection of former municipalities. One of the most important, and most famous of these is the Monaco-ville. Perched on what is aptly called Le Rocher or the Rock of Monaco, this district is perhaps the most imposing sight in the Monacan cityscape.

The Palais Princier

Among the mix of old and new architecture perched on the Rock is one that’s very hard to miss. This is the Palais Princier – literally meaning the Prince’s Palace and also known as Monaco Palace – which, as the name suggests, is the residence of the Grimaldi Prince.

The Monaco Palace, contrary to what many would think, is not the seat of Monaco’s government but is merely the Prince of Monaco’s home. Nevertheless, the large edifice serves as the testimony of the wealth and power of the House of Grimaldi for over seven centuries now.

A Brief History of the Prince’s Palace

The Palace started as a Genoese fortress in 1191. It was first captured in 1297 by Francois Grimaldi, who, in the guise of a monk, took the fortress by surprise. The Grimaldi rule was solidified some time after Francois’ death, and fortification was slowly converted into a palace by the next succeeding princes . As there is no suitable land to build a new castle, the palace received various upgrades.

Each augmentation to the Palace reflects the Grimaldis’ and Monaco’s wealth, as well as the political climate of the time. For example, new towers are added for protection during wartime, or the whole place is renovated whenever certain princes get a need for and can afford better aesthetics.

External Characteristics of the Palace

The Prince’s Palace is known to be unique compared to other royal residences elsewhere in Europe. While most are famous for being pompous and lavishly constructed, the Grimaldi residence consistently reflects the appearance of the old fortress it used to be.

Outwardly, the Monaco Palace is, like Monaco itself, a combination of age old and modern architecture and aesthetics. The Renaissance style facade reflects the appearance of what could be a classy hotel, fronting its old medieval fortifications that seem to be left untouched by time.

The Monaco Palace Interiors

The interior meanwhile, contains many rooms, the most notable of which are the 16th century state apartments. Another section of note is the processional route, an enfilade – a series of rooms aligned with each other – and a ceremonial pathway to the throne room that starts from a U-shaped staircase from the court of honor, around which the Palace is built.

The Palace interior reflects plenty of French influences, which are best exemplified by the Gallery of Hercules, which is based on the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. This can also be seen in what remained of the 18th century upgrades to the state apartments.

If you are planning to go on a vacation to Monaco, you better drop by Monaco-ville and see the magnificent palace for yourself. This edifice is not only a reflection of the Grimaldis’ affluence, but also the history of Monaco itself.