Monaco-Ville, ‘The Rock’, Monaco

Monaco-Ville, Prince's Palace, Monaco

The Palais Princier, or Prince’s Palace at one end of the rock platform that supports Monaco-Ville.

Visiting Monaco-Ville

The Palais Princier is the official residence of Prince Albert II. Built in 1191 by the Genoese it’s been fought over for hundreds of year but has been home to the Grimaldi family off and on since 1297 (when François Grimaldi captured the fortress disguised as a monk) with a little help from their French friends.
Tours of the Palace State Apartments are available throughout most days or just wander the streets for free, check out the panoramic views over the port and Monte Carlo and watch the changing of the guard at 11. 55am daily.

Monaco-Ville old street, Monaco

The little streets in the old town are very reminiscent of Nice’s Vieille Ville, and prices didn’t seem too different either.

Monaco-Ville sights

Looking down on Fontvieille from Monaco-Ville.

Looking down on Fontvieille from The Rock.

Monaco-Ville sits high on a rocky headland above the port – which is why it’s also known as The Rock or Le Rocher. The old town was originally a pirate stronghold but is now home to a partially medieval, pedestrianised village, the ruler’s Palais Princier, the Cathedral, admin buildings and a couple of excellent museums as well as attendant hotels, restaurants, cafés and bars.

Until the 1960’s Fontvieille hardly existed, being little more than a narrow stretch at the base of the mountains. But Prince Rainier III expanded Monaco’s area by 16% during the 60’s by reclaiming land from the sea.

Monaco-Ville ramparts walk, Monaco

A beautiful, short walk from the Palace to the Cathedral and on to the Oceanography Museum, overlooking Fontvieille Port.

Cathedral of St. Nicholas, Monaco-Ville, Monaco

Cathedral of St. Nicholas. Not outstanding but it houses some fine pieces of art. We especially liked the ‘retable’ and this mosaic.

Oceanography museum, Monaco-Ville, Monaco

The Musée Océanographique. Photo by Gleb Radchenko.

The Oceanographic Museum of Monaco is magnificent and recognised worldwide as an authority on marine life, presenting a huge collection of stuffed marine life forms in addition to a vast, 6m deep Mediterranean-life aquarium housing 6, 000 specimens including sharks, sea turtles, moray eels, giant guitarfish and so on, as well as a growing coral reef, a tactile pool, a bizarre but educational nursery, an avante-garde ‘Liquid Galaxy’ exhibition created by Google and film shows.

In the summertime The Rock also offers a spectacular open-air cinema in a beautiful setting with very comfortable and spacious seats.