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About the Principality

Monaco OverviewAbout The Principality

About The Principality

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Monaco has a rich and fascinating history filled with enchantment, intrigue, regal Lords and Princes and even a Hollywood movie star. It is a story of castles, epic battles, legends and untold riches.

The Grimaldi ascent began one night in 1297, when Francois Grimaldi seized the fortress of Monaco from a rival Italian faction. Disguised as a monk, he successfully led a small army into the fortress reclaiming it in the name of the Pope. The legacy of his daring victory is recorded on Monaco's coat of arms, which bears two monks brandishing swords.

Over the next few centuries, Monaco prospered as an important port in major maritime trading routes and as a strategic naval base for European military powers that were constantly vying for control of The Rock.

In 1604, Lord Honore II came to the throne and launched Monaco into its "Great Century". Reflecting upon his accomplishments, he designed himself worthy of a new title, Prince Honore II. Grimaldi rules have proudly held the title of Prince ever since.

The French revolution took a heavy toll on European royalty, including the Grimaldis. Monaco was annexed by France and members of the Monegasque royal family were imprisoned. The annexation was cut short with the abdication of Napoleon in 1814, however, and all rights of the Grimadis were restored.

In 1861, Monaco relinquished one-half of its territory to France in exchange for cash and independence. On the throne at this time was Prince Charles III. He realized that most of Monaco's natural resources had been lost with the land and something had to be done to reestablish an economic base in the Principality. He decided that the answer was tourism and gambling. In 1863, he established the Société des Bains de Mer. The company consisted of a handful of hotels, a theater, and a casino, which would soon flourish and become the foundation of the magnificent district of Monte-Carlo.

Prince Rainier III ascended to the throne in 1949 and later caught the world's attention with his storybook marriage to American-born actress Grace Kelly. Today, Monaco still stands as a proud monarchy with their son, H.S.H. Prince Albert II as its head of state. In 1997, the Grimaldi family celebrated the 700th anniversary of its reign in Monaco.

click here to learn about Location & Geography

A sovereign and independent state, the Principality of Monaco has borders on its landward side with several communes of the French Department of the Alpes-Maritimes; Seawards, Monaco faces the Mediterranean Sea.

Its surface area is 485 acres, of which nearly 100 were recovered from the sea during the course of the last twenty years. Monaco lies on a narrow coastal strip, which sometimes rises vertically upwards with its highest point at 206 feet. Its width varies between .65 miles and a mere 382 yards. Its coastline is 2.5 miles long. The Principality has only one commune, Monaco, whose limits are the same as those of the state.

Monaco is divided into five areas:

Monaco-Ville on the Rock, the old fortified town, with the Prince's Palace, the ramparts, the gardens, the Cathedral and the Oceanographic Museum.

The Condamine is the second oldest area in Monaco. The name comes from the Middle Ages and means the cultivable land at the foot of a village or castle.

Monte-Carlo, created in 1866, named in honor of Prince Charles III, hosts an internationally famous Casino, luxury hotels and leisure facilities, some created recently: Larvotto beach, the Monte Carlo Sporting Club, the Boulingrins Gardens.

Fontvieille is the newest area of the Principality of Monaco and was created from land reclaimed from the sea. This man-made waterfront area features a harbor, stadium and sports complex, heliport, and a pollution-free industrial zone, as well as some shopping areas and the new Columbus Monaco hotel.

Moneghetti, home to the Révoires and the Exotic Gardens.

click here to learn about Weather

Mild seaside climate

Situated in the heart of Mediterranean Europe, the Principality of Monaco enjoys a particularly mild climate, with more than 300 days of sunshine per year. In winter, temperatures average between 48 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit with sunny days and cool nights. In the springtime, "Le Mistral" wind creates crystal clear skies with temperatures in the 50s-60s. Most summers are in the 80s with hot spells for a week or so in July and August. Sea breezes cool down the evenings. One of the loveliest times to be in Monaco is Fall. With temperatures in the 60s to 70s, people are still sun tanning on the beach until mid-October.

Month Max Temp.* Min. Temp.* Days of Rain** Hours of Sunshine
January 58F 50F 5.9 149.8
February 60F 50F 5.2 158.9
March 62F 54F 6.7 185.5
April 66F 58F 6.0 210.0
May 72F 64F 5.6 248.1
June 80F 72F 2.8 281.1
July 86F 78F 1.3 329.3
August 86F 78F 2.5 296.7
September 82F 74F 4.5 224.7
October 74F 66F 7.5 199.0
November 66F 58F 7.7 155.2
December 62F 54F 6.8 136.5
TOTAL     62.5 2574.7***

* Average temperatures recorded between 1911 and 1985

** Average monthly rainfall from 1911 to 1985

*** compared to just 1715 hours in Paris

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