Grace Kelly, the princess of Monaco, left her bright career in Hollywood and moved to Monaco to live a fulfilling life with her prince. When she was offered a role to play in another Hollywood movie, she refused the offer because of her devotion to saving the tiny Principality of Monaco. A fascinating example when Love wins over Career.
One beautiful day, my life path carried me away to this tiny Principality for six precious hours, and I was thrilled to know what miraculous story lies behind this exquisite piece of land. Precious moments spent in the glow of Monte Carlo- one of the four governmental districts of Monaco… Nestled along the French Riviera, Monte Carlo boasts with charming narrow alleys decorated with unique floral arrangements and tropical trees during the warm seasons of the year. Literally translated from Italian, Monte Carlo means “Mount Charles”, named in honor of Charles III- who has been the Prince of Monaco and Duke of Valentinois from 1856 till 1889.
When I visited Monaco for the first time, the wonderful movie “Grace of Monaco” with Nicole Kidman in the leading role of Grace Kelly had not been on my watch list. But after I watched the fascinating story of the Princess of Monaco, it elicited an overwhelming desire to explore the Principality even deeper.
Monaco at First Glance and its Architecture
The first glance of Monaco prompted me: it is a land of high-class lifestyle and exquisite taste; people living in Monaco have an elegant style in everything: even their pets look exceptionally refined:
Aligned by sophisticated architectural style, the buildings do serve well for a comfortable living. My particular attention was caught by the black ornamental balconies decorating the residential buildings. Those balconies do create an artistic atmosphere, but they likewise propose a coziness and comfort for one’s living environment:
What would you think first when looking at those balconies? As for me, I thought that I could enjoy a lovely afternoon with a coffee, watching the passersby and breathing a refreshing scent of the close by hills. Additionally, the view from the balconies would bring me inspiration to create a beautiful piece of art on canvas. Moreover, even though these buildings were centrally located, the atmosphere around was still calm and relaxed. Further on, the tall palm trees reaching almost till the last floor of the buildings looked really impressive, as if showing they do not want to stay behind their neighboring houses in style and superiority.
Following a theme of subtleness and style, tenderness was blended into the street design, architecture, and sculptures: for instance, I especially loved the Fountain by Zagoni Ange:
From the first sight, the sculpture in the fountain resembled two feminine legs merged into one, but later on, I discovered that in reality, the sculpture represents intertwined dolphins. Perhaps female dolphins, I suppose from the tenderness it displays.
Furthermore, I realized: what lies beneath the creation and history of Principality, is reflected in the modern-day lifestyle of Monegasques (people native to Monaco).
Delving into the History of Monaco
Not surprisingly, the Principality has both Italian and French influence. The history of Monaco is antique, starting from the Palaeolithic Period and its early stage is closely-linked to the Rock of Monaco. This very Rock has formerly served as a retreat and was initially populated by the Ligures coming from the Italian region of Liguria.
While coming from a mountainous country, honestly I never felt so “rockily protected” as I did in Monaco. When walking up through one of the main pedestrian streets, there is a scenic hill standing opposite to you. It seems as if it is safeguarding its residents from the external world. Frankly said, when in Monaco you have the feeling that you entered into another planet. I felt like I came across another kind of Globe when traveling by train from a nearby French town to Monaco.
Nowadays, probably the most glorifying emblem of Monaco is The Prince’s Palace- Palais Princier de Monaco, elevating high above the hill: a symbol of vitality, strength and noble pride that can be noticed from nearly every corner of the city. Prince Albert, Alexandre, Louis, Pierre is the present Sovereign Prince of Monaco. The Palace was constructed in the very place where the Genoese erected a fortress. The Prince’s Palace of Monaco is open for visitors and contains 15th-century frescoes, in line with Italian style gallery, the splendid Throne Room, and the Blue Room- a subtle blend of gold and blue.
When you are standing on the bottom of the hill, a spectacular view opens in front of you… The harbor, Mediterranean Sea represented with its glorious shine adorned with clear white yachts ready to serve you as a guide.
The Casino of Monte-Carlo is another splendid architectural masterpiece that is not merely a platform for rich ardor gamers, but also a stage for ballets, operas, and prestigious concerts.
The Principality of Monaco Offers Plenty of Gardens
Princess Antoinette Park: frequently referred to as a Kingdom of Olive tree. The entrance of the park is adorned by delightful Bougainvilleas- flower species with ornamental vines. Presently the site has turned into an amusement park for children. However, adults may also spend a wonderful leisure time surrounded by marvels of nature.
Casino Gardens and Terraces: if you climb uphill from the Casino, you will discover an oasis of nature and tranquillity. A French style garden will embrace you in its arms and propose a gentle look. The gardens where they are settled are inside the “Little Africa” garden, surrounded by charming fountains.
St Martin Gardens- rich in Mediterranean flora
The Exotic Gardens and The Observation Cave- Inaugurated in 1933, the Park houses several million plant species named as “succulents”, bringing you to the world of surrealism.
And probably one of the most significant ones- Fontvieille Park and the Princess Grace Rose Garden: The Rose Garden is devoted to Princess Grace, planted by her husband the Prince Rainier III as a memory to his wife. The garden displays roses devoted to Royal Families, like the Grimaldi Family and has roses named in honor of Princes and Princesses. The Park set in Fontvieille area exudes a unique type of serenity and showcases a list of modern sculptures.
The white charm of the buildings aligned with their pinkish and creamy neighbors was alluding subtly to walk into their area and observe them from a closer look:
The picture above brings a sense of unity or a graceful solidarity. I had the same feeling when trying to capture the friendliness of those buildings and harmonious state they elicit. Overall, when in Monaco I came to a conclusion that there are three “powers” ruling over the Principality: style, grace, and tender splendor. Pay attention that the splendor is not shouting out loud its rights, but it slightly reminds us to have a look and admire its charm.
Eventually, even though the Principality seems tiny, one or two days are not sufficient for exploring the jewels of Monaco and feeling the sparkle it exhibits. But only a few hours spent in this glorious land will leave a subtle aroma on your senses luring to taste even more…
Practical Information When Traveling
If you are traveling to Monaco from France, the closest Airport is Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport from where you may reach Monaco by train. Whilst traveling by car, it will take you around 30 minutes to reach Monaco from Nice Airport.