What to see on the Rock of Monaco?
Monaco city, also called “the Rock”, is the historical centre of the Principality.
As its name suggests, it is located on top of a 60 metre high hill, overlooking the sea.
It only has a surface area of 20 hectares, where several of Monaco’s emblematic monuments can be found.
How to climb the Monaco Rock, where to park, what to visit on the Monaco Rock…
What are the best activities on the Monaco rock? Follow the mouse!
Table of Contents
Map of Monaco city (the rock)
Want to know what else there is to see in Monaco with all the practical information?
How do I get up to the Rock of Monaco?
Although a multitude of lifts are dotted around the Principality, you should know that there is no lift to get up to the Monaco Rock!
In truth, there is, but not directly from the public road, only from the underground car park on the chemin des pêcheurs, at the end of the rock (see below) ?
On foot: from the Place d’Armes, follow the Major ramp, which connects it on a fairly gentle slope to the Place du Palais. Or go through the avenue de la Porte Neuve (where the buses pass). It takes about 10 minutes to climb at a normal pace.
By bus: lines 1 and 2 have their terminus “Monaco-Ville” at the top of the rock, on the Place de la Visitation, less than 100 metres from the Oceanographic Museum.
By car: please note that only vehicles registered in the Principality or in the French department of Alpes-Maritimes are allowed to drive on the Rock of Monaco!
Where to park to visit the Rock of Monaco?
The only way to visit the Rock of Monaco by car is to park in the car park on the chemin des pêcheurs, at the end of the Rock.
It is accessible from the Avenue de la Quarantaine, at the foot of the rock. There are lifts to the top of the rock which lead to the oceanographic museum!
What to see and what to do on the Rock of Monaco?
The most touristic area of Monaco with Monte-Carlo, the Rock offers several monuments and places to visit!
- The princely palace
- The oceanographic museum
- The cathedral of Monaco
- The museum of old Monaco
- The viewpoints
- The Chapel of Mercy
This district, also called “Monaco-ville”, has a very different aspect from the rest of the principality!
Indeed, while elsewhere the modern towers soar towards the sky, on the rock, one finds real alleys typical of the old cities of Europe!
I took pleasure in strolling there, it was relaxing after all!
The colours evoke of course the nearby Italy, and even the Old Nice, but more “clean” shall we say. Maybe a bit too much? I’ll let you be the judge! ?
There are also a few covered passages that are quite typical of the towns and villages around here…
You should know that although this is the most touristic area of Monaco, it is not the most expensive!
In addition to souvenir shops, there are a few bars, snack bars and restaurants at prices equivalent to those in Vieux Nice for example. Enough to take a little break!
The Rock of Monaco is also home to various Monegasque institutions, such as the town hall, the Parliament and a prison on the hillside.
Princely Palace of Monaco
Standing proudly on the pretty palace square (logical, isn’t it?) ? , the Princely Palace of Monaco is the official residence of the Monegasque princes since 1297.
And yes, it dates back! It is therefore one of the oldest royal palaces in Europe, along with the Alcazar in Seville.
A first fortress was built in 1191 for the Republic of Genoa, to which Monaco belonged.
Between 1331 and 1357 the fortress was extended for the first time.
And yes, this is because Monaco had been conquered by the Grimaldi family and the City-State was growing in importance!
The palace was enlarged and redesigned several times during its history, especially in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was transformed from an austere fortress into an elegant Renaissance princely palace.
A modern extension now houses the princely flats, which are not open to the public. No, you won’t run into Albert or Charlene when you visit the Palace of Monaco!
Nowadays, visitors can discover the 17th century Grand Apartments including the throne room and the chapel, the Sainte-Marie tower, the Clock tower, and the Cour d’Honneur with its superb 16th century frescoes.
I visited it a few years ago, when I was still a young mouse. But photos were not allowed there. ?
The palace was closed for restoration work until July 2022. Since then it is open for visits (free with audioguide), but only in high season.
Information on the official website of the Princely Palace of Monaco
Palace Square in Monaco
The palace square in Monaco itself is very pretty!
If you are lucky, you will be able to see the traditional changing of the Monegasque Guard every day at 11.55am!
Belvederes of the Rock
From the Place du Palais, you can access a belvedere offering a beautiful view of the heights of Monaco and the port of Fontvieille!
A small garden offers a breath of greenery while enjoying the view… ?
Walk around the old ramparts and enjoy the views!
Below is the pleasant Saint Martin’s garden, with its exotic plants.
Notre-Dame-Immaculée Cathedral of Monaco
At the end of the promenade is Monaco’s cathedral.
It was built between 1875 and 1903 in a neo-Romano-Byzantine style, in white stone from neighbouring La Turbie.
It replaced the former St. Nicholas Cathedral, which was destroyed shortly before! Take a tour, it’s free!
Admire the many old altarpieces in the cathedral, including the one of Saint-Nicolas, which dates from 1500.
You can also see the tombs of Monegasque princes, notably that of Rainier III and Princess Grace.
Monaco Oceanographic Museum
The oceanographic museum is the star of Monaco! 600,000 visitors come every year to discover it!
Inaugurated in 1910 by Albert I, it is one of the oldest museums of its kind.
With a surface area of 6,000 m² (that’s big!), it houses around 6,000 fish specimens of 300 different species.
The duration of the visit to the Monaco aquarium is about 3 hours.
The Oceanographic Museum in Monaco also has a museum dedicated to the sea, its history, and its fragility!
There are some fossils, skeletons of marine mammals, ship models and other objects brought back from the depths.
A real marine version of a natural history museum!
I really enjoyed my visit to the Oceanographic Museum and can only recommend it!
Info on the official website of the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco
You will find another small garden below the oceanographic museum.
This is where the open air cinema is held in season!
A little further on, the fishermen’s garden also offers a pleasant setting. And yes, there are quite a few gardens on this piece of rock! And well maintained… ?
At the very end, Fort Antoine hosts a small open air theatre.
Chapel of Mercy
Let’s go back to the heart of the old town of Monaco!
The Chapel of Mercy was built in 1639 at the height of the Baroque period.
Indeed, the decoration is quite different from the more sober cathedral!
It first belonged to the Brotherhood of the Black Penitents, then the White Penitents, before they became one: the Brotherhood of Mercy, hence the name.
Rather pretty, isn’t it? ?
Museum of Old Monaco
Located on the Rock of Monaco (logical, of course), the Musée du Vieux Monaco traces the history and identity of Monaco through ceramics, furniture, costumes…
The Musée du Vieux Monaco is, in principle, open to visitors free of charge on Wednesdays and Fridays from 11am to 4pm from June to the end of September.
Information on the official website of the Monaco Tourist Office
On the other side, you can also enjoy views of the modern city, notably the Hercules port below, the Condamine district, Monte-Carlo…
Fishermen’s beach in Monaco
The Fishermen’s Beach is the only natural beach in Monaco.
This small, little-known cove is located at the end of the Rock.
It is accessible by a staircase from the fishermen’s path.
Access under Fort Antoine or by lift from the car park on the Chemin des Pêcheurs, next to the Monaco Oceanographic Museum.
Notice of the mouse on the Rock of Monaco
As the historical centre of Monaco, the Rocher is of course the most interesting district of the Principality, and above all the cutest!
Indeed, I’m not going to lie to you, the rest of the City-State is very modern and in permanent construction. I prefer the small old streets to the low-rise, colourful buildings!
So this is my favourite area of Monaco. Even if I advise of course not to limit yourself to that and to go to Fontvieille and Monte-Carlo at least to have a global view of the city!
If my memories of the princely palace are somewhat old, I really liked the oceanographic museum, which I recommend!
The Rock of Monaco is also worth a visit for the superb views over the rest of the Principality, and even beyond!