Monte Carlo Monaco
For many, Monte Carlo is synonymous with its lavish casinos, a staple of the area for more than a century and a half, and no trip would be complete without a trip to the betting tables. Monte Carlo, the central quarter of the principality of Monaco, is still the playground of choice for the rich and famous. The yachts are as big as mansions, champagne is the national drink and even the railway station looks like a pharaoh’s tomb. Live out your James Bond fantasies at the Casino de Monte Carlo, a glitzy 1910-built complex that features slot machines, French roulette and private rooms for craps, blackjack and more. Then, take your winnings and get a taste of the thriving nightlife Monte Carlo is known for.
Monte Carlo isn’t all about the gambling, however. Visitors can glimpse the principality’s medieval history with a tour of Le Rocher (“The Rock”), the old town that’s still home to Monaco’s government entities and the Grimaldi family’s royal residence. Thousands also make the trek to the 19th-century Cathedral of Monaco to pay their respects to Princess Grace.
But while a Premiership star’s salary would help you enjoy the finer luxuries of this haven on the Mediterranean coast, Gareth Huw Davies finds that anyone can savour its fine gardens, clean streets, sensational views and the world’s grandest aquarium…
Top 10 Most Popular Attractions in Monte Carlo
1. Casino And Opera House
Monte Carlo is synonymous with high-end European gaming houses. Head to one of our listed casinos and take a chance at winning big. Experienced the luxury, but don’t spend it all in one place!
Charles Garnier, the architect of the opera house in Paris, built the Casino in 1878. The “atrium,” paved in marble, is surrounded by 28 Ionic columns in onyx. It leads into the auditorium of the opera, called the “Salle Garnier,” which is decorated in red and gold, with a profusion of bas-reliefs, frescoes and sculptures. Here, for more than a century, outstanding international performances of opera, ballet and concerts have been staged. The “gaming rooms” comprise a succession of numerous rooms featuring stained glass windows, admirable decorations and sculptures, allegorical paintings and bronze lamps.
2. Monaco Cathedral
The 19th-century Romanesque-Byzantine cathedral constructed of white stone from La Turbie is the final resting place of the former Princes of Monaco as well as Princess Grace.
From the interior design, you can admire an altarpiece by the Niçois painter Louis Bréa dating from 1500 as well as the high alter and the Episcopal throne of Carrara white marble. Pontifical services are held during great liturgical celebrations accompanied by the harmonies of a grand organ with four keyboards, inaugurated in 1976 the magnificence of which permits the organisation of outstanding spiritual concerts. From September to June every Sunday at 10am, mass is sung by the “Les Petits Chanteurs de Monaco” and “Cathedral Choir” fills the halls with angelic sounds.
3. Oceanographic Museum
With its international reputation for excellence, this exceptional museum is dedicated to marine science and oceanography. Its collections of marine fauna collected by Monaco’s pioneering Navigator Prince Prince Albert 1 are both invaluable and unique.
Ninety tanks in the aquarium display thousands of fish, and models of Prince Albert I’s ships are exhibited on the first floor. Ocean-exploring equipment and skeletons of marine animals (including a 20m-long blue whale) are showcased on the ground floor. Apart from educational displays, the museum is famous for its laboratories, used by scientists from all over the world.
Along with its world-famous Aquarium where the rarest species of fish and marine life in many magnificent shapes and colors swim about in 90 pools, offers a grandiose and unique perspective of oceanic life. Its latest installment, the Shark Lagoon, is a giant pool measuring 450 cubic meters, that reveals the diversity and extraordinary coloring of the coral reef and the creatures which populate it.
4. Fort Antoine
Overlooking the old port on the northeastern section of the Rock, this 18th-century fortress is now a well-attended, open-air theater. After sustaining heavy damage in 1944, the site was extensively reconstructed a decade later. The theater seats 350 and hosts numerous summertime events. In this enchanting setting, high quality performances are given during the summer season. Its military architecture, watchtower and the almost total solitude which can be found there, combine to give it a unique and particular charm. Its stage has been pleasantly arranged with a pyramid of cannon balls at its centre.
Get Around and Things to Do In Monte Carlo
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