Hi there! Continuing on with the glamour from the French Riviera, Monaco is not short of riches (to say the least). On my journey in Southern Europe for work, I only spent a few hours in Monaco but it felt like enough to see the highlights.
To start, Monaco is technically a sovereign nation, so although it’s bordered by France on all sides, it’s a separate country. It is ruled by Prince Albert II of the Grimaldi family, which makes Monaco a monarchy. His family has been in power since 1297 with some brief interruptions. Monaco was only recently recognized by the UN as an independent nation in 1993.
Prince Albert II is one of Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace Kelly’s children. She was an American actress before marrying the Prince of Monaco and becoming a royal. While driving from Nice to Cape Ferrat, you can see a memorial remembering where Grace Kelly died in an automobile accident.
Technically, Monaco is the 2nd smallest nation in the world, (after Vatican City). Monaco’s population is a little more than 38,000 people. To put this in perspective, New York City has a population 226 times as big as Monaco! Another interesting fact about Monaco is that it is the most densely populated nation in the world. There are 19,000 inhabitants per kilometer, which is why you see so many apartment buildings stacked on top of each other.
Due to it’s tax laws, Monaco is known as a playground for the rich (and famous). One out of every three people are millionaires (aka 30% of the population). This is evident in the nice cars, fancy yachts and even private helicopters you can see when visiting.
If you’re not rich, Monaco can feel a little overrated in some cases. Most of the tourist activities to do are located in the old town. For example, you can visit the inside of Monaco’s Cathedral for free, where Princess Grace Kelly is buried, along with other members of the royal family.
As you work your way into old town, passing by souvenir shops and small restaurants, you eventually will find the royal palace. If you find yourself in this area at 11:55am, you can catch the changing of the guard. Although it’s not as ornate as the ceremony at Buckhingham Palace, it’s fun to watch them process by. (Check out the link here on how to visit the Prince’s Palace in Monaco).
Separate from Old Town, the most famous thing in Monaco is the Monte Carlo Casino. I didn’t have time to go inside and win some money, but it is always an option if you’re looking for a glamorous night out on the town.
Separate from an American Princess and a lot of millionaires, Monaco is also famous for the Grand Prix car race. This is one of the world’s most famous races due to it’s tight turns, tunnels and changes in elevation. The course is one of the trickiest in Formula 1 racing.
Overall, Monaco is an impressive place to visit. Between the yachts, casinos & royals, there is enough to keep you entertained for a day. Stay tuned for some more posts about my Euro work trip!
Yours truly, Amanda