Snapshot of Monaco’s history through its sculptures and buildings.
de la visitation
walking time: 1h45
|Notable features: Certaines œuvres ne sont pas accessibles aux personnes à mobilité réduite. Certaines œuvres peuvent être déplacées.
Place de la Visitation
southern side of the Place de la Visitation is Lycée Albert Ier high school. It
occupies the former Convent of the Visitation, founded in 1663 by Charlotte de
Gramont, wife of Prince Louis I. The religious building was then used as
hospital, a prison and later a barracks, before being turned into a school by
Prince Albert I in 1910.
Chapelle de la Visitation is in the same building as the Lycée. It was
originally the chapel of the Convent of the Visitandines, founded by Princess
Charlotte de Gramont to provide education to young girls of the Monegasque
community and surrounding area. For the most part, it has retained the baroque
style that inspired its architect Marc-Antoine Grigho, a very popular artist in
to the Chapel is the National Council of Monaco, the sole chamber of the
Monegasque Parliament. Pass in front of the National Council and you will
arrive in a small square, where you can admire the bust of Louis Aureglia by
Paul Belmondo (c. 1955). Louis Aureglia was President of the National Council
for two terms. (1950-1954; 1955-1958).
the National Council is the Ministry of State, home to the Prince’s Government.
It is responsible for governing the country, which is a constitutional
hereditary monarchy. The Ministry of State is an imposing building. The second
main entrance is opposite the Lycée Albert Ier.
Place du Ministère d’Etat
the National Council is the Ministry of State and surrounding gardens. Walking
around the Ministry of State, you can admire a number of sculptures. First
there is the nymph Salmacis, created by Monegasque sculptor François-Joseph
BOSIO. Salmacis is a leading character in the myth of the Greek god
is also a bronze sculpture by George SEGAL entitled Man on Bench (1984).
to the right of Ministry of State and further down, you will see Jean-Michel
Folon’s work La Fontaine aux Oiseaux (1934-2005).
to the Lycée Albert Ier and turn right, into the small street. You will arrive
at the Place de la Mairie.
Place de la Mairie
building which houses Monaco’s city hall dates from the early 17th century, and
became the Mairie in 1901.
you can visit the baroque Chapelle de la Miséricorde, the founding stone of
which was blessed in 1639 under the reign of Prince Honoré II (1720-1795).
Rue Comte Félix Gastaldi and stop at number 4 to admire the renaissance style
doorway (1530-40). It dates back to the Rock’s reconstruction following the
siege of 1506-1507.
little further on, in the square of the same name, you will find the bust of
François Joseph Bosio (1768-1845), a neo-classical Monegasque artists of the
First Empire and Restoration.
Place du Palais
along Rue Comte Félix Gastaldi, between the post office and the tobacconist.
You will arrive at the Place du Palais, where a first fortress was built in 1215,
under the direction of Genoese consul Fulco del Castello (Gibelin), on the site
of the current Palace.
18th century cannons are a trace of the fortress’s defenses.
your right, you will see the statue of François Grimaldi, (created in 1997 by Kees
Verkade), a 13th century Genoese. At the time, Genoa was engulfed in a civil
war between the Guelphs (supporters of the Pope) and the Ghibellines
(supporters of the Emperor). In January 1297, François Grimaldi, also known as
Malizia, a member of the Guelph faction who had been exiled from Genoa,
succeeded in seizing the Place de Monaco by a clever ruse. The fortress was
subsequently lost and retaken numerous times, before being captured by the
Grimaldis once and for all in the 14th century.
you will see “La Science découvrant les richesses de l’océan” (1914), a statue
sculpted by Constant Roux in honour of Prince Albert I of Monaco (1848-1922)
who was known as a man of learning.
cross the Place du Palais, notice the Barracks of the Prince’s Guards.
left, towards the sea, admire the views of Fontvieille and the cliffs of the
the Ruelle Sainte-Barbe beside the souvenir shop, and follow the ramparts with
their 18th century turrets. You will arrive on Avenue Saint Martin, in front of
the Cathedral and the Palais de Justice which houses the Principality’s court.
in 1658-59, the Palais de Justice was originally a town house before being
converted into the court house in 1822.
left-hand side of the Palais de Justice, you will see a marble bust of Prince
Louis II. Walk around the Palais de Justice, to find the Saint Nicholas
Fountain. On the right-hand side of the Palais de Justice is a marble bust of
Prince Honoré II (1597-1662) by the 17th century Genoese sculptor Lazare Ratto.
Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate (Cathédrale
Notre-Dame de l’Immaculée Conception) was
built between 1875 and 1903 in a Byzantine Auvergnat Romanesque revival style
by Charles Lenormand, on the ruins of the Church of Saint Nicholas (built after
1252). Inside are paintings by Louis Brea, a French artist of the last 15th and
early 16th century.
the Palais de Justice and the Cathedral, you can also admire a fountain topped
with a statue of Saint Nicholas.
back down the steps to the gardens in front of the Cathedral.
the path through the Saint Martin gardens, with their numerous heritage trees.
Pause outside the Saint Martin cave, which provided a shelter for humans from
the Upper Paleolithic period, and then admire the statue of Saint Martin of
Tours by the Vincenzo Mussner workshop. There are also other sculptures to be
seen here, including Le Carrefour de la Vie by Edouard-Marcel SANDOZ or
Invitation by K. Verkade (1982). More can be found throughout the Saint Martin
gardens, such as Ettore e Andromaca by Giorgio de Chirico (1886).
little further on, the Statue of Prince Albert I by François Cogné (1951)
overlooks the Mediterranean. It was Prince Albert Ier (1848-1922), known for
his interest in science and particularly oceanography, who ordered the
construction of the now world-famous Oceanographic Museum (1898-1910). Admire
the marble statues of Gustave Dussart on the right of the front wall (1905). To
the right of the museum building itself, you will also see Le Messager by
Le Fort Antoine
your walk along the Terrasses des Prisons, to Fort Antoine.
watchtower at the edge of the cliff overlooks the open sea and the entrance to
plaque commemorates the name of Prince Antoine I (1661-1731), who built the
fortress, and the construction date of 1709.
explore Fort Antoine, you will see L’homme et l’enfant by Axel CASSEL (1999).
Fort Antoine, you can either walk back to the starting point of this tour of
the Rock, or continue on to Port Hercule and La Condamine.