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The Palace of the Prince

For several centuries, the citadel of Monaco was coveted by the enemies of the Grimaldi, resulting in many conflicts with the Genoese, the French and the Spanish. For this reason, for nearly 400 years, the Rock maintained its character as a fortress and was principally concerned with developing its defences. Towards the middle of the XVIIth century, Prince Honoré II (1597-1662) undertook the earliest steps to transform it into a palace. The military structures were retained, but the interior was totally altered so as to house the superb collections of paintings by master artists, tapestries and precious furniture. Towards 1690, Prince Louis I (1642-1700) had constructed the great gate which still exists today. This gate opens on to the Court of Honour, admirable in its proportions, with its double stairway in Carrara marble leading to the Gallery of Hercules and which, despite the modifications carried out, may be considered as the old central part of the fortress built at the beginning of the XIIIth century.

The Treaty of Paris of 1815 restored full and complete sovereignty to Monaco and Honoré IV (1758-1819) and Honoré V (1778-1841) undertook the restoration of the Palace robbed of its collections and damaged to a considerable extent during the French Revolution. Florestan I (1785-1856) pursued the work of restoration with success. Charles III (1818-1889) had the St Mary's Tower and the buildings surrounding it reconstructed in the style of Florentine palaces. He gave the Chapel of St Jean the Baptist, built in 1656, a new altar. Albert I (1848-1922) had the Clock Tower constructed using white stone from la Turbie. Louis II (1870-1949) directed his activities to large-scale maintenance work. Since his accession in 1949, H.S.H. Prince Rainier III has adopted as his goal the embellishment and modernization of the Palace. The old frescoes were restored. The Court of Honour was paved with three million white and coloured stones forming immense geometrical figures. The southern wing, destroyed during the Revolution, was rebuilt and now houses the private apartments of the Sovereign's family as well as the Museum of Souvenirs of Napoleon and the Archives of the Prince's Palace.

The great apartments are open to the public from June to October, while the Napoleonic Museum and the Archive collection may be visited throughout the year.

Every day, at noon, the ceremony of the Changing of the Guard is performed by the section of the carabiniers responsible for guarding the Prince's Palace. It takes place on the Palace Square, using a ceremonial involving a great deal of marching and counter-marching which evokes the admiration of the large number of tourists.


The Cathedral of Monaco

The first stone of the Cathedral was laid on 6th January 1875 during the reign of Charles III. Construction was completed in 1884. Three years later, the Principality, which until then was religiously affiliated with the See of Nice, was raised to a Diocese attached directly to Rome. Under the terms of a Convention signed on July 31, 1981 between the Holy See and the Principality, its incumbent now has the rank of Archbishop. The Cathedral of Monaco is built entirely with white stone from la Turbie like the Clock Tower of the Prince's Palace, and is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The Cathedral was designed in the style of the XII century. It has three naves and an ambulatory where the sepultures of past Princes are found. The pillars are of granite and porphyry of various colours, while the main altar is of Carrara marble. One may admire an altar-piece and a pietà of the primitive master painter Louis Brea, two paintings from the XVIth century, a processional canopy bearing the arms of Prince Antoine I (1661-1731), an altar of gilded wood from the Spanish Renaissance, and a mosaic in the cupola.



Government House

Facing the Albert I Grammar School, the Government House was inaugurated in June 1894 by Prince Albert I. It is the residence of the Minister of State and the headquarters of the Monégasque high administration. Located on the site of the building called the Lonely House, Prince Antoine I had it built in the first years of the XVIIIth century in order to allow his wife, Princess Marie de Lorraine, to escape from the frivolities of the Court.


The Casino

World renowned, its fabulous history was linked from the very beginning with that of the Belle Epoque. Its foundations were laid in 1861, during the reign of Charles III, on the isolated plateau of the Spélugues which was to become, five years later, the new town of Monte-Carlo. Today it is the main building, the work of the architect Charles Garnier, surmounted by two pinnacles over a glass roof, with a neo-classical facade, opening on the Monte-Carlo side on to a vast staircase leading to the entrance hall which lies in front of the Opera Hall. <br><br>The main building is connected on its left (when seen from the front) to a series of other buildings which house the gaming rooms which are open every day (except May 1) from midday onwards. <br><br> (See also the work by Philippe Saint-Germain and Francis Rosset "La Grande Dame de Monte-Carlo").