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Monaco In Depth › Top Attractions
- Casino de
- Fort Antoine
- Oceanographic Museum
- Place du Palais
Charles Garnier, the architect of the opera house in Paris, built the Casino in 1878. The "atrium," paved in marble, is surrounded by 28 Ionic columns in onyx. It leads into the auditorium of the opera, called the "Salle Garnier," which is decorated in red and gold, with a profusion of bas-reliefs, frescoes and sculptures. Here, for more than a century, outstanding international performances of opera, ballet and concerts have been staged. The "gaming rooms" comprise a succession of numerous rooms featuring stained glass windows, admirable decorations and sculptures, allegorical paintings and bronze lamps.
By the end of the nineteenth century, Charles Garnier was hired to build Monaco's Opera House. The famous architect had gained recognition from his work for the Paris Opera House.
Sarah Bernhard inaugurated the new Salle Garnier in 1879. Between 1893 and 1951, Raoul Gunsbourg directed the Opera and built fame and prestige for Monaco's Opera House. Among the best internationally, Monaco's Opera hosted great voices such as Patti, Tamagno, Melba, Caruso, Chaliapine, Garden, Schipa, Dalla Rizza, Gigli, Lubin, Muzio, Thill, and Pons.
This early XVIII century fortress, built on the northeastern tip of Le Rocher "the Rock," is now used as a marvelous outdoor theater with a capacity of some 350 spectators in tiered seating built in a semi-circle. In this enchanting setting, high quality performances are given during the summer season.
Inaugurated in 1910 by its founder, Prince Albert I, this exceptional museum of marine sciences is a monumental architectural masterpiece with a grandiose façade rising majestically above the sea to a height of 279 feet. It took 11 years to build, using 100,000 tonnes of stone from La Turbie.
The impressive rooms of the Museum, open to the public on two floors, contain remarkable collections of marine fauna gathered by Prince Albert, numerous specimens of sea creatures (stuffed or in skeleton form, including the skeleton of a 66 foot whale), models of Prince Albert's laboratory ships, and craft ware made from the sea's natural products. Part of the first floor is dedicated to the oceanographic works of Prince Albert 1, "Career of a Navigator."
In the basement, the visitor can enjoy the spectacular delights of the world-famous aquarium with its extraordinary show of marine flora and fauna. With 4,000 species of fish and over 200 families of invertebrates, the aquarium is now an authority on the presentation of the Mediterranean and tropical marine ecosystem. Its latest creation, the "Shark Lagoon," unveils in a giant tank the diversity and extraordinary colors of the coral reef and its inhabitants.
On the ground floor, exhibitions and varied film projections are regularly presented in the sumptuous décor of the "Conference room."
Finally on the top floor, it is possible to have lunch in the restaurant "La Terrasse" admiring a magnificent panorama of the Principality of Monaco and the Italian Riviera. A museum shop/gift store is also open during Museum hours.
Lined with batteries of cannons cast during the reign of Louis XIV, the Place du Palais offers a unique panoramic view overlooking the Port and Monte-Carlo, stretching as far as Bordighera in Italy (to the north-east), Fontvieille and Cap-d'Ail (to the south-west).
Every day at 11:55AM sharp, in front of the Palace's main entrance, visitors can enjoy the spectacular changing of the guard ceremony performed by the Carabineers in full dress uniform (black in winter, white in summer), a ceremony that has remained unchanged for more than a century. Not only are the Prince's Carabineers responsible for the Sovereign's security 24 hours a day but they also provide him with a Guard of Honor and escort him on special occasions.
The "Compagnie des Carabiniers du Prince" has a military band (Fanfare) consisting of 27 musicians; within the main band a small variety orchestra and a brass ensemble (for religious music) have been formed.
The military band performs public concerts and also plays at official occasions, sports events and international military music festivals.