The small principality of Monaco, teetering on the side of a cliff that spills down to the Mediterranean, jams loads of history into its 500 acres (202 hectares). The Old Town of Monaco, aka Monaco-Ville and The Rock, is home to a number of historical buildings, monuments, and alleyways that transport visitors back to the Middle Ages.
Fancy cars and luxe apartment complexes aside, Monaco is abundant with historical attractions. Watch the colorful changing of the guard at the Prince’s Palace (Palais Princier), stroll through the St. Martin Gardens (Jardin St. Martin), see the Roman-Byzantine–style Monaco Cathedral, or walk along the remains of the ancient city walls to get a feel for the rich past of the world’s second-smallest country.
Tours of Old Town Monaco are generally conducted in small groups, which allows for a more intimate experience and an in-depth look at the country’s history. Private tours are also available for those who want to explore Old Town as well as Monte Carlo and Eze while admiring the beauty of the French Riviera.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Old Town of Monaco is a must-visit for European history buffs.
- Visitors typically spend at least two hours exploring Old Town’s attractions, excluding the museums, and learning about the country’s history.
- The streets of Old Town are cobblestoned so wear comfortable shoes to walk on the uneven surfaces.
- Since Monaco is built on hills, those with limited mobility and in wheelchairs may want to consider taking taxis to facilitate exploration.
How to Get There
The Old Town of Monaco is located in the western part of the principality, at the Port de Fontvieille. You can use taxis to get around Monaco, or walk to Old Town from the train station (about 20 minutes).
When to Get There
Monaco sees a majority of its visitors between June and September. It is recommended to visit during the shoulder months, when it is less crowded.
A Brief History of Monaco
Before the Middle Ages, Monaco changed hands numerous times from the sixth century BC, when the Greeks settled there. In 1297, the House of Grimaldi from Genoa seized the rocky settlement and built a fortress as their residence. Today that fortress is the Prince’s Palace, which is the official residence of Albert II, Prince of Monaco.