Monaco does have quite a lot of sights to interest most visitors and makes an excellent day trip destination from Nice.
Many of the millions of people who watched the Monaco Grand Prix on their televisions this year will probably have felt just as I did – that the setting is fabulous, but is there really more to Monaco other than just a grand-prix circuit? Monaco is the smallest principality in the world, a famous tax haven and playground of the rich and famous. It certainly enjoys a stunning location, situated on an escarpment at the foot of the Maritime Alps overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean Sea.
Many visitors to Monaco will probably want to try to visit some of the locations on the famous Grand Prix circuit, and to imagine the atmosphere on race day – Saint Devote corner, the tunnel exit, the port and pool area and the famous Rascasse corner can all be seen on a walk around Monaco-Ville. However, there are a number of other sights which are well worth seeing during a visit to the principality.
The Casino is certainly a famous landmark which also features on the Grand Prix circuit. The name Monte Carlo refers to the quarter of Monaco which contains the Casino. This famous gambling and entertainment complex dates back to the 19th Century, when it was felt to be a rather risky venture which was aimed at bringing more visitors to Monaco. If you want to visit the Casino you’ll need your passport as residents of Monaco are not allowed to gamble in their own casinos and passports are checked to enforce this law. Even if you’re not a gambler, the Grand Casino is worth a visit to see the lavish decorations including beautiful frescoes and bas reliefs.
Another top sight in Monaco is the Royal Palace, seat of the ruling Grimaldi family. Overlooking both the city and the sea, this Renaissance palace was built in 1215 by the Genoese. A Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place daily in the courtyard just before noon. The Prince’s Palace, including the State Rooms, can be visited daily. A season of summer concerts by the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra takes place in the palace from mid -July until early August, for which tickets can be bought on-line. A short distance from the Palace is the Cathedral of Saint Nicolas. Monaco’s royal family have been in the spotlight since the former 1950’s film star Grace Kelly married the country’s sovereign Prince Rainier III in 1956. It is in this neo-Byzantine cathedral that past sovereigns, including Prince Rainier and Princess Grace, are buried.
If you have any time left while you’re in Monaco, you might like the visit the Oceanographic Museum, which has the look of a Victorian mansion rising up from the sea. It is packed with fascinating exhibits including an aquarium and a remarkable 90ft whale skeleton.
So … there are plenty of sights to interest most people who visit Monaco, but one day would probably be enough as your budget might not allow for a longer stay!