"The Principality of Monaco" Monte-Carlo by starship
Monte-Carlo Travel Guide: 162 reviews and 644 photos
Arriving in Monte Carlo by cruise ship at day break was a thrilling experience. As we glided quietly into port, the sun was kissing the cheek of the rippling water's surface and causing it to sparkle like a thousand diamonds. As the sun rose higher it cast a pinkish light on the marina, and then each level of the many multi-story apartment buildings hugging the shoreline and climbing higher up into the hills. I was surprised to see so many buildings so close together ~ some small, but mostly large apartment blocks without too much variation in architectural style.
Skipping over the crecent-shaped harbor filled with enormous yachts and sailboats, our eyes were immediately drawn to the famous facade of the Grand Casino and the buildings with it such as the Hotel de Paris. At this point, there is no question of where you are---you are in the land of the rich and famous!!
The port building through which we passed was clean and austere and we saw no duty-free shops or much else. One young lady from Principality of Monaco gave each passenger a little packet containing a map, an information booklet on attractions including a bus route map, coupons for reduced-price admissions at some attractions, and some very nice postcards!! I thought this was an extremely nice welcome from the Monagasques considering no other port we visited on this cruise welcomed cruise ship passengers in this way, so I was very impressed!!
The tiny Principality of Monaco is a crescent of land located in the region known as the Martiime Alps. Just .76 square miles in size, it is said to be smaller than New York City's Central Park, but its presence is anything but small. The constitutional monarchy government is led today by Prince Albert II, following the death of his father, Prince Rainier III in 2005. (His mother, Princess Grace, died in an auto accident in 1982.) The population, which is around 32,000 souls, is 95% Roman Catholic. Luckily for us tourists, most Monagasques speak English, French and Italian. Monaco's official website states that the present economy is based on banking, financial services, some manufacturing and and research, and of course, tourism. When Prince Rainier III came to the throne in 1949, he worked arduously to modernize the principality and bring financial stability to it by basing the economy on banking and finance rather on gambling revenues alone as it once was said to be.
Our ship docked in Port Hercule" at the Nouvelle Digue de Monaco which is about a one mile walk to the heart of Monte Carlo, or less if you are headed to the Old City of Monaco where the Prince's Palace and the Oceanographic Museum are located.
As you view the marina filled with expensive yachts and sailboats, you know that the very wealthy live and vacation here. However, to my disappointment I never saw any of the glitterati. HaHaHa!!
When I think of Monte Carlo and Monaco, I think of what I would call the golden years when having class was in style: the exciting Grand Prix with daring and handsome young men; gentlemen wearing white dinner jackets and women wearing gowns to the famed casino; suave continental men and beautiful women conducting themselves with class and discretion. And I think of the wedding of "Princess Grace", the beautiful former actress and Hollywood Star, and her handsome Prince Rainier III of Monaco. As beautiful as Monte Carlo is, I believe my impression of it is tied to such memories.
(If there was a time machine, I would send myself back to the 1940's through the very early 1960's!!)
Reigning for Over 710 Years ~ 1297 - ?
The Grimaldi dynasty reached a signficant milestone in 1997 when it celebrated the 700th anniversary of its reign in Monaco! Since the death of Prince Rainier III in April, 2005, his son and successor, Albert II, has reigned over the Principality.
It all started one night in 1297 when Francois Grimaldi disguised himelf as a monk and led a small army into the fortress and won victory from the Italian rulers of that time. Though I have not seen it, the Grimaldi coat of arms features two monks brandishing swords in recognition of the victory of Francois Grimaldi and the establishment of the Grimaldi rulers.
It wasn't until 1604 that Lord Honore II ascended the throne and drew Monaco into its "Great Century." He also honored himself with the title of "Prince" and from thenceforth, all Grimaldi rulers have carried the title of "Prince" and "His Serene Highness or H.S.H." has since been added.
A dark period for the Grimaldis came about during the French Revolution when Monaco was annexed by France and members of the Monagasque royal family were imprisoned. Thankfully the annexation was rescinded with the fall of Napoleon in 1814, and the Grimaldi throne was restored.
In the mid-1800's, Monaco gave half of its land to France in exchange for cash and permanent independence. Having no other economic resources for the Principality to draw upon, in 1863 Prince Charles II established the Societe des Bains de Mer, which consisted of hotels, the casino, and a theater of now legendary fame. Today, Monaco's banking and tourism are major economic forces in Monaco.
Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand Grimaldi, known as Prince Rainier III, ascended the throne of Monaco in 1949 when his mother, Princess Charlotte of Monaco, renounced her rights to the throne in favor of her son. With hereditary ties to many of the royal families of Europe, Prince Rainier could also claim an ancestry with many European nationalities. He worked fervently to reclaim Monaco's financial stability and its illustrious past which he succeeded in. His work is also responsible for making Monaco a "constitutional monarchy."
In 1956, Prince Rainier III married the former Grace Kelly, who gave him 3 children including a male heir to the throne, Prince Albert II. At the time of his death, Prince Rainier was the second longest ruling monarch in the world behind the King of Thailand.
- Pros:Beautiful harbor & views; much to do and see!
- Cons:Wish I could have visited Monaco in a different time period!
The structure known today as the Prince's Palace and residence of the Prince of Monaco, started its life of service as... more travel advice
The Monaco Cathedral is not only quite beautiful but is notable as the final resting place of many of the Grimaldi... more travel advice
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