Top historic sites in Monaco

Prince's Palace of Monaco

The Prince"s Palace of Monaco is the official residence of the Sovereign Prince of Monaco. Built in 1191 as a Genoese fortress, during its long and often dramatic history it has been bombarded and besieged by many foreign powers. Since the end of the 13th century, it has been the stronghold and home of the Grimaldi family who first captured it in 1297. The Grimaldi ruled the area first as feudal lords, and from the 1 ...
Founded: 1191 | Location: Monaco, Monaco

Monaco Top Cars Collection

The Monaco Top Cars Collection host the personal collection of cars acquired by  Prince Rainier III of Monaco (1923-2005). The collection contains almost one hundred classic cars made in Europe and the United States. Notable cars in the collection include the Bugatti Type 35 driven by William Grover-Williams that won the inaugural Monaco Grand Prix in 1929, and Sébastien Loeb"s Citroën DS3 WRC, which he drove to v ...
Founded: 20th century | Location: Monaco, Monaco

Monte Carlo Casino

Monte Carlo Casino is a gambling and entertainment complex located in Monaco. It includes a casino, the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo, and the office of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo. The idea of opening a gambling casino in Monaco belongs to Princess Caroline (1793-1879), a shrewd, business-minded spouse of Prince Florestan I. Revenues from the proposed venture were supposed to save the House of Grimaldi from bankruptcy. ...
Founded: 1858-1863 | Location: Monaco, Monaco

Saint Nicholas Cathedral

Saint Nicholas Cathedral (officially Cathédrale Notre-Dame-Immaculée) is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Monaco, where many of the Grimaldis were buried, including Grace Kelly and more recently, Rainier III. The cathedral was built in 1875-1903 and consecrated in 1911, and is on the site of the first parish church in Monaco built in 1252 and dedicated to St. Nicholas. Of note are the retable (circa ...
Founded: 1875-1903 | Location: Monaco, Monaco

Jardin Exotique de Monaco

The Jardin Exotique de Monaco is a botanical garden located on a cliffside in Monaco. The succulent plants were brought back from Mexico in the late 1860s. By 1895, Augustin Gastaud, who served as the Chief Gardener of the State Gardens of Monaco, grew the succulents in the Jardin St Martin. Albert I, Prince of Monaco acquired a piece of land in Les Moneghetti in 1912. He commissioned Louis Notari, the Chief Engineer of ...
Founded: 1860s | Location: Monaco, Monaco

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy"s most lavish country retreat: during Spain"s Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer"s house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King"s Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince"s Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King"s Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince"s Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI"s old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette"s gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.