MILLION EURO VIEWS
Did you know that Monaco is the second smallest country in the world? With only 0.44 square kilometres, Vatican City State is the smallest. Right behind is the Principality of Monaco, which has an area of 2 square kilometres. This is a tiny area for a country, but the most surprising thing is that some 15,000 millionaires call it home!
This figure represents almost a third of its total population, mostly made up of foreigners, not Monegasques. This places Monaco in the top ten countries in the world with the most immigrants, along with the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Liechtenstein, among others. The country´s official language is French, spoken by 47% of the population. This is followed by Monegasque, which is spoken by 16%. The remaining 37% include the languages of up to 125 different foreign nationalities, such as Italian, English, Chinese, Japanese and Portuguese.
The Principality of Monaco, bordering France and the Mediterranean Sea, is a stunning location, especially the views from above the Rocher de Monaco( the Rock of Monaco). It is a rocky monolith that rises above the Mediterranean coast and on which the Place du Palais is located, just over 60 metres above sea level. The square takes its name after the official residence of the Prince of Monaco, which has been here since 1297.
Every day, just five minutes before noon, the Changing of the Monegasque Guard takes place in the Place du Palais, a very martial ceremony that provides tourists with a great photo opportunity. The remaining photos will indeed portray the incredible views of the sea offered at both sides of the square.
If you are facing the front of the Prince´s Palace, on your right, you will find the Palace Terrace, a beautiful space also known as Belvédère, from which you can see part of the Grand Prix de Monaco. This famous street circuit hosts the Formula 1 Grand Prix, a world-famous event attracting many fans every year.
Once again, stand facing the front of the Palace and turn to the left, where another fabulous view of Monaco awaits us. This is the panoramic view over Monaco-Fontvielle, whose canon ruins remind us that the area was initially conceived as a fortress.
Place du Palais (Palace Square)
A LUXURIOUS TREAT FOR OUR TASTE BUDS
Monaco is a synonym of luxury, ostentation, wealth and quality. This can be seen in its people, buildings, mansions, and, of course, cuisine. At first glance, it might seem that Monegasque cuisine is based on a simple, humble and unremarkable cuisine, with an abundance of fish, seafood, vegetables, rice and olive oil. However, a few small touches that make it unique and exquisite.
When it comes to cuisine, the Principality of Monaco was influenced by multiple cultures, such as a strong mix of French and Italian or a combination of fusion and Mediterranean cuisine, so its restaurants always offer a wide selection of typical dishes. Monaco´s gastronomic culture has its origins in the French Riviera and Northern Italian cuisine. Still, with so many foreigners and tourists taste to cater, it is easy to find restaurants of all kinds in the Principality, whose tastes and smells are sure to make your mouth water.
Monaco has nine Michelin-starred restaurants, including Le Louis XV, Elsa, Le Blue Bay, Ômer and Yoshi. Each one of these establishments has its style and, also, their recipes and their renowned chefs contribute to increasing the gastronomic reputation of the area by achieving and sharing their passion, and at the same time enhancing the land´s richness.
The wide variety of products on offer means that there is also a diversity of eateries. Monaco has luxury restaurants with panoramic terraces, smaller establishments, simple family businesses and even stalls offering fast food or takeaway food, such as sandwiches or snacks. There is a wide range of choices so that everyone can choose a gastronomic option according to their tastes and the time they have available.
Although some people find it hard to try new tastes when it comes to eating, it is recommended that you try something typical in every place you visit. Typical dishes that are equivalent to fish and chips from London or paella from Valencia. An example of a typical Monegasque dish is the stew that follows.
One of the best-known dishes from Monegasque cuisine is a cod stew called Stocafi. It is cooked in red wine and a tasty tomato sauce made with onion, garlic and local spices. Once cooked, the fish is covered with fresh black olives, creating an exquisite contrast. It is usually garnished with boiled potatoes sprinkled with chives. The stew can be served on a plate, in a casserole dish, or even on top of fresh bread.
Stocafi is a real delicatessen! So go give it a try.
When we human beings travel, when we experience new emotions and a series of new experiences that we don´t want to forget, many tend to buy trophies that can help us bring back memories of the trip. And that is what a souvenir is, an object to which we attach great responsibility, as it has to remind us of that particular moment, that place, that smell, that walk through distant lands? Objects that are generally small, resistant and easy to carry, such as magnets, postcards, hand fans, soaps, bags. All of them act as memory capsules!
If there is an ideal place in Monaco to get one of these "memory capsules", it is in Le Rocher, the upper part of Monaco. Many shops there offer a wide variety of souvenirs and memorabilia and will delightfully cater to the needs of most tourists. From the Palace Square itself, leaving the princely residence behind, we enter a small hive of narrow streets lined with shops selling everything from Formula 1 cars to flags of the Principality.
But the essence of a place not always awaits us in its souvenir shops, but also in its market, where we will find the local products. Also in Le Rocher, just a ten-minute walk from the Prince´s Palace is the Condamine Market. This market, founded in 1880, has adapted but has always kept its warm and friendly Provençal spirit over the years. Local producers, florists, market gardeners all gathered together in the same covered space with areas where visitors can sit and taste what they have bought. It is a trendy place among the Monegasques, where they often gather, thus attesting to the authenticity and good quality of the local produce. Condamine is one of the ten arrondissements that make up the Principality of Monaco and its name, which dates back to the Middle Ages, means "arable land at the foot of a domain". No wonder the market is located in this area.
To reach the Condamine Market, starting from the Prince´s Palace, take the Place du Canton and then take the first exit onto Boulevard Charles III. At the roundabout, take the second exit onto Avenue du Port, and turn left onto Rue Terrazzani. You will find the market on your left-hand side.
Le Marché de la Condamine (Condamine Market)
11 aRue Terrazzani
GRACE PATRICIA KELLY
On April 19th 1956, a major event took place in the Principality of Monaco. Some media dubbed Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand Grimaldi´s wedding to Grace Patricia Kelly as "the wedding of the century". The civil ceremony took place the day before in the Throne Room of the Prince´s Palace; the religious ceremony was held in St. Nicholas Cathedral.
The wedding generated a great deal of expectation worldwide, as the bride was not royalty. Grace Patricia Kelly was an American actress and, incidentally, an Oscar winner. Because the bride was a commoner, many European royal houses decided not to attend the wedding. Still, the wedding was attended by more than 600 guests, including many well-known Hollywood stars. What an event!
It is estimated that more than 30 million viewers watched the event on television. Such was the impact of the wedding that the Principality of Monaco experienced enormous economic growth after that. The beautiful film star turned Princess of Monaco was able to boost tourism, and her fascinating image attracted large fortunes who invested a lot of money in the Principality, making it one of the most glamorous destinations in the world. This luxury is still present today!
Unfortunately, on September 13th 1982, Princess Grace and her daughter Stephanie were involved in a severe car accident on a bend on one of the roads near the Palace. Stephanie escaped unharmed, but the Princess was so severely injured that she died the following day.
Prince Rainier never recovered from the loss of his wife and gradually withdrew from office and society. In 1984, the grieving widower had a beautiful rose garden planted in the Fontvieille landscape park to honour his deceased wife. It is called the Roseraie Princesse Grace (Princess Grace Rose Garden), which radiates the scent of its more than 300 varieties of rose bushes. And, dominating the garden, and guarding the stillness and calm of the place, in the centre stands an elegant bronze statue of the mourned Princess Grace. Isn´t it a lovely place to have your photo taken?
It only takes about 10 minutes to get to the park on foot from the Prince´s Palace, as the two are just under a kilometre apart. Facing the Palace from the front, we must go to the left and towards the back of the Palace. When you reach the Place du Canton, take the first exit on the left, towards Avenue de Fontvieille, continue to Avenue des Papalins and turn right. After crossing a pedestrian overpass, turn left. After two roundabouts, you will see the park to the right.
This short walk to visit this beautiful park, free of charge, is well worth it.
Roseraie Princesse Grace (Princess Grace Rose Garden)
Av. des Papalins
To get to know the monuments of a city, a town or a country is fantastic. But it turns out that sometimes fascinating facts about these places often evade our attention. That is why, at this point, we are not going to talk to you just about any monument, but about an intangible treasure that has always been very present in Monaco and that makes it possible for us to delve into its essence. This treasure is a sport, a "monument" closely linked to Monaco as the Principality has always excelled in many different sporting disciplines. An achievement made possible, in large part, by the Grimaldi family.
The current sovereign Prince, Albert II of Monaco, is involved in seventeen sporting categories; he even competed in bobsled at the Olympic Games between 1998 and 2002! He has also driven in two Paris-Dakar rallies, but his favourite sport is football. His maternal grandfather was an Olympic rowing champion, and his uncle, in the same discipline, took part in four Olympics, coming third in one of them. Let´s continue; Prince Rainier III´s cousin was a French national bobsled team member. And Princess Charlene was a champion in several swimming tournaments and placed fifth in the women´s relay at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. What an Olympic family!
Let´s highlight some of the prestigious and well-known sporting events that take place in Monaco annually, among which are the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Monte Carlo Masters; the tennis tournament, better known as the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, stand out. In addition, the Principality is also the scene of many lesser-known but fascinating sporting events. Here are a few of these truly unique events.
Monaco hosts the Electric Car Grand Prix and the Vintage Car Grand Prix. Both are held every two years in May. The Principality is also home to La Societé de Regates, a sailing club founded in 1888. Two of Monaco´s most acclaimed sporting institutions, the Société Nautique and the Yacht Club, have grown out of this sporting club, which is the oldest and the chicest in Monaco!
Lastly, let´s talk a bit about football. Monaco Football Club is the leading team and plays at the Louis II stadium. The elegant Princess Grace designed the iconic diagonal stripe on their redshirt, exported to every corner of France and Europe. As for the football team´s mascot, it´s an elephant! Given the stadium´s proximity to the zoo, the Monegasques often boast that the zoo´s elephant squeals every time their team scores a goal.
These sporty stories give us a much better taste of this competitive Principality!
POSING WITH A CHAMP
Le Grand Prix de Monaco, or Monaco Grand Prix, is the famous Formula 1 race organised annually in the Principality. It is a spectacular must-see event, unique and well worth watching. The roar of the engines rattling throughout its streets, the extreme curves of its route and its urban layout, which includes the very streets of Monaco, make the spectator´s heartbeat rise. In this race, the drivers´ skill is revealed as they perform complicated, masterfully executed manoeuvres, as there are numerous gear shifts and turns that have to be dealt with within a very short time when driving through this fierce labyrinth of lanes.
The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the oldest and most prestigious races in motor racing. It was born in 1929 thanks to Antony Noghes, son of the president of the Automobile Club de Monaco, who dedicated his time, effort and dedication to getting the race accepted and recognised. Initially, his proposal was rejected, but after six months of hard work, and thanks to the help of collaborators such as Louis Chiron and Jacques Taffe, the race could be organised.
The competition was interrupted during World War II, but in 1948 it was relaunched, accompanied by the rise of important drivers in the world of Formula 1. Among them was Juan Manuel Fangio, an Argentinean driver considered by many to be one of the best in the history of the sport. Fangio competed with different Formula 1 team for seven seasons, becoming world champion on five occasions and finishing second on two others.
As a tribute, in 2007, the sculptor Joaquim Ros Sabaté decided to create six identical statues representing Juan Manuel Fangio, which would be placed in cities or on key circuits of the sport. Thus, the same life-size bronze statue can be found in Buenos Aires, Monza, Montmeló, Stuttgart, Nürburg and Monaco. Wouldn´t you like to take a picture with each of these sculptures? You could start with the one in Monaco and then start thinking about your next trip.
To take a portrait with the sculpture of Fangio in Monaco, we must leave the Rock. Facing the Prince´s Palace, turn left towards the back of it. Walk straight ahead and, after crossing a pretty garden, you will come to the Place du Canton roundabout. Leaving the Boulevard Charles III, you will see a second roundabout from where you should take the second exit onto the Avenue du Port. Straight ahead, we will approach the port, where, in the middle of two roads and between the zebra crossings, Juan Manuel Fangio awaits us.
After a walk of about 20 minutes, we will have taken the first photo of our world challenge.
Statue to Juan Manuel Fangio
If we take a look at the history of Monaco, you will see that its location on a rock and its harbour on the Mediterranean, both indicators of prosperity and protection, attracted many civilisations like Ligurians, Phoenicians, Visigoths, Franks, Lombards, Greeks, Romans and Genoese.
There were many power and political shifts in the area for centuries until the Grimaldi family appeared. The Grimaldi dynasty has ruled Monaco since 1297. As mentioned earlier, their residence is at Le Rocher, on the Rock of Monaco.
It is quite possible to stroll through the palace square and enjoy beautiful harbour views and the beautiful Grand blue. A series of cannon sculptures on this square are very eye-catching and are intended to signal that the Rock was originally a fortress. You will also see a life-size statue of François Grimaldi on the right side of the square. He was the founder of the princely dynasty and an important figure in the history of the Principality. If we look closely, we will discover an extraordinary detail in this sculpture: this important Monegasque figure is depicted wearing monk´s attire, although he was not a monk. So why is he dressed like this? Let´s find out why.
On January 8th 1297, François Grimaldi succeeded in liberating Monaco from Genoese domination, which is why he is considered the great founder of the Principality. Nicknamed "Malizia", he was an extremely clever man when it came to his combat strategy. He managed to defeat the enemy even though he did not possess a large army. To deceive the enemy, he pretended to be a monk and asked the Genoese for asylum, thus entering the Monegasque fortress. Once inside, "Malizia" opened the fortress´s gates to his small army at the cover of darkness, who entered and defeated the Genoese by surprise. This historical fact is portrayed on the statue and on the coat of arms of the Principality, where two monks can be seen holding up a sword.
Thanks to "Malizia", the Grimaldi family has ruled Monaco for centuries. Their authority was finally recognised in 1314, and since then, only Grimaldi blood has been allowed to rule here. If there were no heir, Monaco would become part of France, which is why marriage and subsequent offspring are crucial for the Grimaldi dynasty, both of which are vital to preserving their hold on the princedom. Should the Prince fail to produce an offspring, the children of his brothers would also be entitled to ascend the throne, thus further ensuring the continuity of the family´s rule.
FROM BEING A PALACE TO A MUSEUM
We will propose a simple walk that is ideal for exploring the historic centre of Monaco. This is a walk through the narrow medieval streets, where you will discover a part of the history of one of the smallest countries in the world.
We will start our tour at Palace Square. Ideally, you should be there at 11.55 am, since that is when the changing of the guard takes place, an exciting ceremony to watch. A large part of the Prince´s Palace is indeed closed to the public, as it is the official residence of the princely family. Still, it is possible to enter, for a fee, different areas of the Palace, such as the Court of Honour, the Gallery of Hercules, the Crystal Gallery, the chambers of Louis 15th and the Throne Room, besides being able to admire the numerous pieces of furniture, tapestries and paintings in the Palace.
We continue our walk towards the Palais de Justice and the Cathedral of Saint Nicolas. Leaving the Palace behind us, we approach the corner on the right, where we will see an arch that opens onto Rue Colonel Bellando de Castro. Walking straight ahead, you will find yourself facing the sea. At this point, you will see the Palais de Justice on your left and, right next to it, the Cathedral of Saint Nicolas.
Although it is impossible to visit the interior, Monaco´s striking courthouse has a unique architecture in the form of a circle, and its facade alone is worth a visit. The material used in its construction was grey, porous stone, which was also used to build the ramparts of the Principality. The sovereign Honore II of Monaco is depicted on this curved facade in a bust dating back to 1568.
The Cathedral of Monaco, whose real name is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, is also known as the Cathedral of Saint-Nicolas. The reason for this other name is that the Cathedral was built on the site of the first church of the Principality, which was dedicated to Saint Nicholas. The Cathedral is Byzantine in style and was built in 1875. It is freely accessible and houses the tombs of the deceased Princes.
A little further on from the Cathedral, you will come across the St. Martin´s Gardens as mentioned earlier - if you haven´t already visited them, it´s the perfect time and place to do it.
And finally, we reach the Oceanographic Museum, which can be reached in five minutes walking from the Cathedral. This museum is spectacular, with more than 6,000 marine species. Located on the mythical Rocher de Monaco, it was built under Prince Albert I, the captain and great lover of the sea.
What are you waiting for to start this Monegascian walk?
GARDENS WITH THE SCENT OF THE SEA
Despite its small size, the Principality of Monaco has many green areas, which is lovely for the Monegasques themselves and for tourists who, from time to time, need to take a break to regain their energy and relax.
In this section, we would like to recommend visiting a marvellous garden in Monaco. It is a place where you will forget to look at the clock and where contact with nature will be felt at every step you take. It also offers superb views of the Mediterranean Sea, offering much-needed peace and tranquillity. The Gardens of Saint Martin is a welcoming and beautiful park ideal for enjoying moments of relaxation. The first gardens for public use and enjoyment were created in Monaco. They date back to the beginning of the 19th century when gardens were fashionable all over the Côte d´Azur. But they were made not only for aesthetic reasons but also to provide work for the inhabitants of the Principality when resources were scarce.
Among curvy paths, benches, fountains, and bronze statues, we find exuberant flora in these gardens. Typical Mediterranean species, such as pine trees, green oaks, myrtles, and pistachio, prevailed. Still, over time, other more exotic species have been added which have adapted to the environment. This park is a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle, where the different aromas of its rich vegetation blend with the salt of the Big Blue. It also has numerous spaces to sit, relax, and let time pass.
Interestingly, one of the many bronze statues in the park is that of the great-grandfather of the current Prince Albert II. His ancestor, Albert I, was a captain in the Spanish Navy and a great lover of the maritime world. Thanks to the contribution of this man of the sea, today Monaco has a fantastic Oceanographic Museum. This museum is located just a few steps away from the statue.
To arrive at the Saint Martin Gardens, we place ourselves in front of Saint Nicholas Cathedral, from where it is only 300 meters distant. By Rue de l´Eglise we head to Rue Colonel Bellando de Castro
We turn slightly to our left towards Avenue Saint-Martin; we turn right and take the stairs. The gardens are to our right. We have already arrived!
Jardins de Saint-Martin (Saint-Martin Gardens)
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