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Things to do in Monaco

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Oceanographic Museum
Boasting world-renowned expertise, the Museum presents more than 6000 specimens in their faithfully reconstructed natural habitat. Come and discover the amazing species of the Mediterranean, the incredible diversity of the inhabitants of the coral reef and the monumental Shark Lagoon, all under the same roof. From the highly colourful tropical zone to the spellbinding charm of the Mediterranean section, the Oceanographic museum invites you to observe the underwater world in all its authenticity. The one hundred or so pools, ranging in size from 100 to 450,000 litres, are home to several thousand fish specimens, more than 200 species of invertebrates and around one hundred species of hard and soft corals.
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Rock of Monaco
The Rock of Monaco is a 62 metre tall promontory overlooking Monte-Carlo's port and the Mediterranean sea. It is also the oldest of Monaco's areas, where the Old Town is located. During the 6th century BC, Greeks founded the colony of Monoikos. Its name comes from Hercules, who was said to have constructed the ancient path that passed through the region from Spain to Italy together with Monaco's port and a coastal road. The road was, thus, dotted with altars to Hercules, and a temple dedicated to him was established on the Rock of Monaco. Nowadays, the rock is home to Monaco's Old Town, with medieval narrow streets and the country's most important monuments: the Palais Princier, Saint Nicholas Cathedral and the Oceanographic Museum.
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Prince's Palace of Monaco
The Prince's Palace is the private residence of the ruling Prince but the State Apartments are open for public visits part of the year. The original fortress and ramparts were built by the Genoese in 1215 and throughout the centuries was transformed into one of the most luxurious residences in the style of Louis XIV. Prince Honore II was responsible for re-assembling the rich collections of art, which had been auctioned off during the French Revolution when the Palace was turned into a hospital for the Italian Army. However, Prince Rainier III is credited for restoring the Palace to its former glory and the magnificent state in which it can be seen today. Beginning at the top of the Hercule Gallery and descending on to the main courtyard is a spectacular double-revolution Carrera marble staircase dating from the 13th century and inspired by a similar staircase at the Chateau of Fontainebleau. Adorning the gallery walls are frescoes of mythological figures attributed to Francesco Mazzucchelli dating from the 16th century and the Genovese artist Orazio Ferrari in the 17th century. The frescoes in the Palatine chapel in the north end of the main courtyard depict the history of Saint Devote, the patron Saint of the Principality. The chapel, built-in 1665, is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist.
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Monte-Carlo Casino
As you arrive at the Place du Casino, the sight of this masterpiece by the famous architect Charles Garnier will take your breath away. Built in 1863, the Casino has been designed around an atrium surrounded by 28 onyx columns, behind which the Salle Garnier, an Italian theatre decorated in red and gold is the veritable miniature replica of the Paris opera house.
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Exotic Gardens & Observation Cave
Spread over an area of approximately 15,000 m2, the Exotic Garden is home to a thousand cacti and other succulent plants with stems or hypertrophic leaves which store water. Originally from the planet’s main semi-arid regions, these plants still produce plenty of flowers. The principal flowering seasons are winter (January–February) for South African succulents such as Aloe and Crassula, and spring and summer for cacti, a family native to the American continent. The enormous trees which line the paths of the Exotic Garden illustrate the age of the collection which served as the basis for the creation of the garden at the instigation of Prince Albert I. Opened to the public in February 1933, and supplemented in the 1960s by a botanical centre and specialist tree nursery, the garden is one of the Principalities most visited tourist attractions. At the base of the cliff on which the Exotic Garden is situated (called “the observatory” due to the long-standing presence of a small astronomical observatory), at an altitude of 100 metres, there is a subterranean chamber equipped to receive visitors. The limestone rock, carved out by water containing carbon dioxide, is studded with caverns adorned with geological formations bearing evocative names: stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, columns, soda straws... Expert guided tours of the cave are included in the entry ticket for the Exotic Garden. The tour travels from a depth of 98 metres to a depth of 40 metres (around 300 steps). The chamber plunges down almost to sea level and is regularly explored by local cavers. The presence of prehistoric humans in the region of the cave is confirmed by the bones of the animals that they ate. These remains also illustrate the climate variations that have taken place over the last 250,000 years.
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Larvotto Beach
Larvotto is the principality of Monaco's most popular sandy beach and the main one with free public access. Covered in smooth imported fine gravel this man-made beach is made up of both private and public areas of beach. Despite being a beach in a city setting this is one of the gems of Monaco. Beautiful clear water for swimming, soft pebble beach for sunbathing and plenty of good eateries around to satisfy even the pickiest of foodies. In the stretches of private beach you can hire a lounger and a parasol from the beach club, plus enjoy a cocktail and some food while you top up your tan. Whilst, on the public stretches you will need to bring your own lounger, towel, parasol or whatever you might desire for your trip to the beach.
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Monaco Cathedral
Built with the stark white stones from La Turbie in 1875, this Roman-Byzantine-style building houses the burial places of past sovereigns, including Prince Rainier and Princess Grace.
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Fontvieille Park
Fontvieille Park encircles the Big Top, providing the district with an urban landscaped park that is much appreciated by families. It features Mediterranean plants such as olive, pine and cypress trees alongside more exotic species like Strelitzias, Stenocarpus and Araucarias.
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Museum of Stamps & Coins
The Museum, of contemporary design, houses rare stamps depicting the Principality’s postal history, as well as all the documents which have been used in the stamp-printing process from the first Charles III stamp in 1885 to the present day. The Museum of Philately and Coinage is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm (6 pm in July and August). It sells currently available stamps and coins issued by the Principality.
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Naval Museum
Monaco’s Naval Museum is the result of one man’s passion. From a very early age, Professor Claude Pallanca dreamed of sailing and meticulously built model ships. During his military service, he was assigned to the Jeanne d’Arc as a dental surgeon, where he established friendships with many sailors and naval officers, and his passion for boats and the sea grew.
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The Japanese Garden
Those who take a stroll through the gardens will be able to discover all the essential components of a Japanese garden: a pond, islands, a waterfall, lanterns, bridges, a tea house and a Zen garden. This green oasis is a rich mix of Japanese tradition and Mediterranean touches, the result of close collaboration between gardeners from Monaco and Japan. The bamboo hedges, tiles (Awaji Island), stone lanterns, and the woods used in the various structures (gate, tea house, etc.) were all imported from Japan, while the plants, all Mediterranean (pine, olive and pomegranate trees), were pruned and looked after by Mr Beppu for three years to give them a Japanese appearance.
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Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology
Boasting a rare and important collection of fossils and excavated treasures originating from the Principality and nearby regions, this museum retraces some of the most significant milestones in the history of humans.