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  • Writer's pictureJulie Prusak

A Walk through Monaco’s History and Culture

In addition to exploring Monaco’s numerous museums and landmark buildings, visitors can best experience the city-state’s past and present by walking. Because of its relatively small size, Monaco is one of the easiest and most accessible destinations to explore on foot, with several routes requiring less than two hours to complete. The entire country can be crossed on foot in 45 minutes.

My ideal day in Monaco would begin with a walk along the beautiful coastal path to neighboring Cap D’ail’s Plage Mala. If walking at a leisurely pace, the route takes approximately one hour and hugs the rocky coastline, passing grand villas, hidden beaches, and scenic viewpoints.

Standing the test of time

For the past 150 years, Monaco has been the prime destination for the most discerning travelers. A sovereign city-state and microstate nestled on the French Riviera just a few kilometers west of the Italian region of Liguria, it is one of the most beautiful locations on the Mediterranean coast.

The Principality is and will continue to be a renowned symbol of luxury and glamour, but it is also filled with history and culture. Ruled by the Grimaldi family for over 700 years, Monaco’s culture is vibrant, diverse, and immersive.

From exploring all things marine at the marvelous cliff-side Oceanographic Museum to visiting the legendary marble and gold Monte-Carlo Casino that was originally built in the 1850s, there are many cultural sites of significance for visitors of all ages to explore.

The Prince's Palace

The Prince's Palace, a royal residence since 1215, is one of Monaco's most visited sites. Although still a private residence, the State Apartments are open to visitors between April and October.

Highlights include the Palace Chapel which is dedicated to St John the Baptist, the Hercule Gallery, the Mirror Gallery, the Red Room, the York Room, the Yellow Room (Louis XV's Bedroom), and the Throne Room, as well as various frescoes, tapestries, and items of furniture.

Other important historical sites well worth visiting include:

  • Palais de Justice: Created in 1924, Monaco’s courthouse is situated in the old town and built out of the same material used to construct the city’s famous ramparts.

  • Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology: Explore the early traces of humankind in this museum founded in 1902 by Prince Albert.

  • Saint Nicholas Cathedral: The resting place of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier, as well as many other members of the Grimaldi family, Saint Nicholas Cathedral was built in the late 19th century on the site of the first parish church which was constructed in 1252. It remains a site of huge symbolic importance today.

  • Fort Antoine: Fort Antoine is an open-air theatre in the most beautiful of settings. Hosting shows during the summer months, the 18th-century site was rebuilt after being destroyed in 1944.

  • Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (NMNM): Those with a passion for art enjoy plenty of time at the NMNM by taking a deep dive into Monaco’s story and contemporary art scene.

Walking the Sculpture Path in Monaco

Sculptures are particularly prominent In Monaco. When Prince Rainier III became head of state, the Principality acquired a vast collection of artworks that is publicly displayed.

More than 200 sculptures can be found in the gardens, streets, and squares of Monaco, with many of the works dedicated to the princes, people, events, and places that have come to define the destination over the years.

The Monaco-Ville Sculpture Path, for example, offers a snapshot of the Principality’s history through its buildings and sculptures. Starting on the southern side of the Place de la Visitation, it takes around one hour and 45 minutes to wind through to the end destination at Fort Antoine via the city hall, Place du Palais, and Saint-Martin gardens.

Fontvieille, meanwhile, spans 23 hectares of beautifully kept land. Its sculpture path takes around 90 minutes to complete, taking walkers through numerous museum buildings, landscaped gardens, views of the coast and hillsides, and sculptures.

Lunch Like the Locals

The vibrant food hall at La Condamine typifies Mediterranean dining, offering a medley of flavors, from French to Italian (as well as Japanese and more). Try the fresh, handmade pasta from Maison des Pates. Every time I visit the food hall here, I buy a portion of barbajuans—a local delicacy of party parcels filled with ricotta and chard that originates from Monaco.

I also enjoy the Lunch Formula or authentic Italian pizza on the terrace at Norma.

You’ll interact with the local chefs, who will be pleased to introduce you to regional delicacies. Indulge in gelato made daily from local ingredients at the family-run Santo Gelato. Be sure to stroll around the market outside, too, for fresh, local produce. Lemons and oranges are famous in this part of the world.

Make Time for Spa Time

After a day spent walking around Monaco, head to the Thermes Marins on the Avenue de Monte-Carlo, a luxurious health and wellness spa in the center of Monaco for a relaxing swim and massage.

As a Certified Visit Monaco Expert, I'd be delighted to plan your trip to Monaco and the French Riviera.

Want to chat about all things travel? I’d love to connect. I can be reached here.

Let's get started planning your vacation! Reserve your complimentary consultation call with me to begin!

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