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Tourist Places To Visit In Monaco
Located on the French Riviera, Monaco is a small sovereign principality surrounded by France on three sides and the Mediterranean Sea on the other side. The state stretches across an area of just 2 sq. km, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in terms of old-school style and typical European charm. Monaco balances its glitzy and glamorous side with its numerous museums and parks, offering environments perfectly suited for all kinds of travellers. Often the destination of choice for those who want to retire in luxury, Monaco has long attracted wealthy vacationers and pleasure-seekers for its glorious beaches, shopping boutiques and fine-dining spots. To know more about what’s in store for you in this fascinating country, here are the top places to visit in Monaco.
Palais du Prince
The Palace of the Prince of Monaco is situated atop the old town of Le Rocher and offers breath-taking views of the state from its location. This 13th-century monument is open to visitors for tours when the Prince is not in town, which can be determined by the position of the flag on the main tower; if the flag is raised it means the Prince is at his residence. A lot of the rooms within the palace are off-limits, but there is still loads to explore here like the Italian-style gallery, the ornately designed Throne Room, the Blue Room with the blue-and-gold décor, and the Palatine Chapel. Visitors will also be able to appreciate the luxurious furniture and priceless artworks from the private collection of the royal Grimaldi family.
If you plan your tour of the palace around noon, be sure to catch the traditional ritual of the Changing of the Guard that takes place at 11.55 am every day; a must-see spectacle in Monaco.
Casino de Monte Carlo
One of the most famous casinos in the world, since it was featured in the James Bond movie Casino Royale, the Monte Carlo Casino, is definitely one of the top attractions of Monaco even if you are not an avid gambler. Built in 1893 in typical European Belle Epoque style, this gold-and-marble casino features lavishly designed interiors and gaming rooms that each carry a different theme. Celebrities frequent the place quite often, which only adds to the existing glamour of the building. The place has been named after Prince Charles III who led the development of the casino; the name was Monte Carlo is Liguarian for Mount Charles and was taken up three years after the casino’s inauguration. If you plan to visit exclusively for gambling purposes, schedule your visit only after 2 pm.
Opened in the year 1910, the Oceanographic Museum is known to be home to one of the oldest aquariums in the world. Perched dramatically at the edge of a cliff, the museum has been built 90 m above sea level and took almost 11 years for its completion. It contains more than 6000 species of marine life and other artefacts dedicated to oceanography and was founded by Prince Albert I. In the museum, visitors will be able to observe various scientific items that belonged to the Prince, who collected most of these objects through his exploratory expeditions. The different aquariums here are the Tropical and Mediterranean Aquarium, and a 6-metre-deep shark lagoon that forms the centrepiece of the museum. The different pools have been designed in a manner that mimics the natural environment of the fishes, which includes the presence of reconstructed coral reefs here as well.
Jardin Exotique is located in the neighbourhood of Fontvieille outside the Monaco city centre. The garden is situated on the towering slopes of Moneghetti and can be reached through a maze of stairs, paths and bridges. Overlooking the ocean, Jardin Exotique boasts spectacular views of the surrounding vistas and is home to thousands of species of plants that include African and Latin American varieties, apart from having the world’s largest population of succulents and cactus collections. A tour of the garden includes admission to the Anthropology Museum and the Observatory Cave that is laced with ancient stalactites and stalagmites. The cave is one of the most fascinating places in Europe for its unique feature of gradually rising temperature with descending height.
This Roman-Byzantine style church was built in the year 1875 and is one of the most distinctive structures in Monaco; its outer surface is covered in white limestone from La Turbie that creates a lovely image on the city’s skyline. Even the interiors of the cathedral feature a grand white Carrara marble organ and altar. The church serves as the resting place for many members of the royal Grimaldi family, including Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. The church holds great significance in the Monaco community and between the months of September to June, Sunday mass is held at 10 am every week by the Monaco Boys Choir and Choir of Monaco Cathedral.
The Saint-Martin Gardens are located along the Le Rocher coastline and overlook the Mediterranean Sea, allowing splendid views of the ocean as you skirt along the garden paths. A memorial statue of Prince Albert I decorates the region surrounded by both indigenous and exotic flowers that flourish here due to the warm Mediterranean climate. There are lots of benches here along with great little spots for picnics as well, making this the perfect location to enjoy an outing with family and kids.
Nouveau Musee National de Monaco
The New National Museum of Monaco is nestled within two villas; Villa Paloma and Villa Sauber. It hosts seasonal contemporary art exhibitions that often focus on performing arts. Exhibitions are also held for paintings and photography. Apart from that, the museum also functions as something of a conservation centre and performs restoration work on antique dolls and their costumes. Tickets for the museum are sold as combos, which include entry to Jardin Exotique as well.
Princess Grace Rose Garden
Dedicated to the movie star Grace Kelly who was also the wife of Prince Rainier of Monaco, the garden was built by the Prince himself in 1984, in memory of his wife who was killed in a car accident. Spread over an area of four hectares, the garden boasts features like a small lake surrounded by palm trees and olive groves. But as the name suggests, the main highlight of the place is a large number of rose bushes (approximately 4000) of different varieties that cover the area of the park. It is naturally best visited in springtime or summers when the flowers are in full bloom; even at other times of the year, the park holds a special grace and is definitely worth a visit.
A typical Japanese garden in the middle of Monaco might appear queer to many. But this is the place to head to if you are looking to relax and enjoy a ‘zen moment’ away from the hustle and bustle of loud Monaco. This very traditional Japanese park is nestled in between the Mediterranean, Monte Carlo and Larvotto, and consists of beautiful plants, water bodies, stone works and even a waterfall. A strip of beach here offers much-needed solace in the form of a quiet and peaceful spot. While it may be a relatively small garden, it utilises the Japanese concept of compactness and packs in many features in the little space.