Monaco - Sparkling City State at the Mediterranean Sea
Monaco has become a symbol of luxury and wealth. The elegant city state at the Côte d'Azur fascinates with flashy casino nights, noble shopping facilities and a lot of sunshine. Nevertheless, the Principality of the Grimaldis has preserved its medieval charm.
Geography - Sun-kissed
Monaco is a city state in southern Europe and the world's second smallest state after Vatican City. The principality lies between Italy and France at the Mediterranean Sea coast of the Côte d'Azur. The city is divided into ten districts. Those of interest for tourists are the historical old town of Monaco-Ville, Monte Carlo Casino and the quarter of Fontvieille, which was built in the sea by land reclamation. With over 2,580 hours of sunshine per year, the small principality is a sun-kissed place. It is pleasant 23 °C warm in summer. The climate is typically Mediterranean with warm summers and mild winters.
Nature - The Principality at the sea
Monaco is enthroned on a smoothly rising hill at the Mediterranean Sea. Although the state has an area of only 2 km², its coast is 4.1 kilometres long. In Monte Carlo, you find the country's very own sandy beach, which is highly frequented, especially in summer. The highest nearby peak is Mont Agel (1,148 m). It is located on French territory. Monaco's highest elevation only measures 160 metres. It is the location of the Exotic Garden, which offers a wonderful view of the principality.
Natural sights - In memory of Princess Grace
Despite its small size, Monaco has a great variety of green areas and parks which are worth visiting. The Exotic Garden does not only accommodate numerous rare types of plants but also a limestone cave and it offers a spectacular view over the whole city. In addition, there is a Japanese Garden in the Avenue Princesse Grace in Monte Carlo and a Rose Garden, which is also dedicated to Princess Grace. This princess is, of course, the beautiful Grace Kelly, who became famous as an actress before she married the Prince of Monaco. Families and children enjoy watching the colourful parrots, snakes and jaguars in Monaco's Animal Garden or visiting the impressive Oceanographic Museum.
Culture - From the Greeks to the Monégasque
The Phoenicians and the ancient Greeks already knew this wonderful place. They constructed the temple of Hercules and called it "Monoikos". Later on, a harbour was built, which developed into a significant trading point. This harbour was given the name "Herculis Monoeci Portus" but the world used the short form of "Monaco". Today, the country's wealthy inhabitants proudly refer to themselves as "Monégasque". They constitute about 20 percent of the population. Another 20 percent are French and 19 percent are Italian. In addition, many British, Belgian, Swiss and German people have moved to the small principality. With over 36,000 inhabitants, Monaco is the state with the highest population density on earth. The language spoken in the country is a Romance dialect called "Monégasque". The official language, however, is French. Italian and English are also spoken by many residents. Monaco already passed into the ownership of the Grimaldi family in 1297 but France only acknowledged the country's independence centuries later. Monaco has had its own constitution since 1914.
Cultural sights - A small country with a great variety of opportunities
It is astonishing how many sights can fit onto such a small area but Monaco knows how to use building land efficiently. The principality has earned its nickname "Manhattan at the Mediterranean Sea". The many skyscrapers bear witness to the country's construction activity. Every project is planned with a thought-out concept of how to use the limited space best. The district of Fontvieille was built in the sea and has become the country's centre of hightech industry. Beside the modern complexes, many visitors are interested in Monaco's medieval old town Monaco-Ville. The Prince's Palace (Palais de Prince) of the Grimaldis was already built in the 13th century and the changing of the guard still takes place at 11.55 a.m. The old town is located on a rock. Between the castles, narrow alleys and historical ruins, the Middle Ages come alive again. Monte Carlo is the casino district which made Monaco famous. The rich and beautiful people meet here and invest into exuberant and exciting nights in the casino. At the old harbour of Port Hercule, luxury yachts are waiting for their next trip. In addition, Monaco accommodates a princely Auto Museum, a cathedral, the harbour La Condamine as well as the Stamp and Coin Museum.
Experience - Rien ne va plus...
Luxury and five-star restaurants spoil travellers' palates with all culinary delicacies the globe has to offer. Everything is catered for here. The principality also has its own local cuisine. The Monégasque art of cooking is influenced by the Italian and French cuisine. For example, it uses tomatoes and olives in many dishes. After dinner, the most exciting part of the day begins. An evening in the Casino de Monte-Carlo is one of the characteristic experiences in the principality. The ladies wear evening dresses, the gentlemen elegant suits and the motto is "rien ne va plus", no more bets. Travellers who want to invest their winnings on the next day should go to see the fashionable boutiques and luxury shops near Port Hercule. You can also buy luxury goods such as elegant fashion, jewellery and perfume in the Métropol Shopping Center. Besides the casino, which was built at the Place du Casino in Monte Carlo in 1863, the principality offers opera, ballet and restaurants in the old town.
Activities - Water skiing, Via Alpina and Formula One
Although the shoreline is only a few kilometres long, there are many water sports facilities. Holidaymakers can go windsurfing, water skiing, wakeboarding and jet-skiing. Divers can join a local diving club and fishers can set off to sea on a yacht. In addition, Monaco is a popular starting point for whale watching tours, which are often called "sea safaris". As Monaco is one of the Alpine states, it is equipped with an Alpine hiking trail - the "Via Alpina". It is a long-distance trail and starts in front of the palace. The principality is also famous for its Rallye Monte Carlo and the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix. Furthermore, the country is an excellent starting point for exploring the Côte d'Azur and the Italian Riviera.
Monaco does not have its own flight connection but the nearest airport is only a few kilometres away, in Nice. If you want to arrive by air, you can take a helicopter from there as Monaco has a landing site. It is much easier to reach Monaco by land by car, bus or train.
Luxurious nights in the casino and exquisite boutiques make Monaco the ideal destination for an exciting city trip. In addition, culture enthusiasts can experience and trace the history of the Grimaldi family at first hand here.