Monaco is a culturally and historically rich country, with Monte Carlo it’s the most famous and fascinating city. If ever there was a place to take a trip back in time, then this is it. With grand palaces, quaint narrow streets and atmosphere simply oozing from every corner, it’s almost possible to feel the history surrounding you. Although most places in Monaco can transport you somewhere, these attractions are the ones you really can’t afford to miss.
The Casino de Monte Carlo
The Casino de Monte Carlo is one of the oldest buildings in the city, dating back to 1834. Stepping inside is a wonderfully bizarre blend of ancient and new, the structure itself is magnificent, yet the casino still has all of the modern conveniences that you would expect. Not only that, but the casino is one of the most successful around, playing host to many different poker tours, as well as more than its fair share of celebrity guests.
François Blanc, the casino’s founder, is something of a legend around these parts. He is quoted as once saying ‘we should do nothing here as it is done elsewhere’ and it’s obvious that this moral has stuck. Although it has all of the amenities you would expect from a regular casino, they just have a way of doing things differently here.
Crystal chandeliers provide a warm and inviting light to the numerous rooms, each with enough staff to ensure your experience is unparalleled from start to finish. The Belle Époque architecture has become a much-admired reference point for thousands of casinos worldwide, though none can truly live up to the real thing.
Visit the Prince’s Palace
If you’re looking for a truly romantic destination then you should be sure to visit the Prince’s Palace. This enormous palace can be found in Monaco’s old town, which is colloquially known as ‘The Rock’. The Palace itself was built in 1191 as a fortress to protect the city, but for the past 700 years it has been the official home of the royal Grimaldi family.
Visiting today, the palace remains as impressive as it ever was and not only is it a very popular tourist destination, it also remains a functioning palace. As such, the gates are constantly guarded by sentries and only some of the palace is open to visitors. During the summer months, the state rooms are open to the public and must be seen to be believed. Another charming series of events that take place during summer are the open-air concerts of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Saint Nicholas Cathedral
The Saint Nicholas Cathedral is another ancient building that must be visited on your trip. Although not nearly as old as the Prince’s Palace, the cathedral still has a fascinating history. The building you see today was consecrated in 1911, but it’s roots date back to 1252.
On the plot that the cathedral sits on was the first parish church in Monaco, but as the church deteriorated, the decision was made to create a beautiful cathedral to stand in its place. It took several decades for the final design to be realised, but what a spectacle it has made. Whilst it is spectacular to view just from the outside, it’s worth taking a look inside as well. Beautiful stained glass, lofty pillars and impressive arches make this particular experience one that is bound to stay with you.