Roman-Byzantine style building was constructed in 1875 using white stone from
La Turbie. It houses the tombs of Monaco’s former Princes. Inside, alongside
the magnificent high altar and the Episcopal throne made from white Carrara
marble, stands a retable by the Niçois painter Louis Bréa, which dates from the
A little history
The Rock of Monaco became a fortified citadel
between 1215 and 1240. A Papal Bull, issued by Pope Innocent IV on 6 December
1247, created the first Parish independent from that of La Turbie, and granted
permission to build a church dedicated to Saint Nicholas, patron saint of
seafarers. Completed in 1321, the church stood on the site now occupied by the
present-day cathedral’s transept. The parish cemetery was located in the area
that is now the nave. During the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, eight chapels were built along the aisles.
In 1868, the territory of the Principality of
Monaco was separated from the diocese of Nice. A decision was made to demolish
the six hundred year-old Saint Nicholas church, to build the present cathedral in its place.
On 6 January 1875, Prince Charles III laid the foundation stone. Dedicated to
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, its secondary patrons are Saint Nicholas
and Saint Benedict. The cathedral was consecrated on 11 June 1911.
The Cathedral of Monaco houses two organs:
- The Grand Organ, on the gallery above the narthex, built by Jean-Loup Boisseau in 1976, in collaboration with Pierre Cochereau and canon Henri Carol, who was the resident organist from 1976 until his death in 1984. René Saorgin succeeded him until 2005. The current resident organist Olivier Vernet, who has held the position since 1 January 2006.
Reconstruction work on the grand organ was carried
out by the organ-makers Thomas of Belgium. The renovation work was
completed in December 2011, leaving Monaco with an instrument that is both
architecturally and musically unique. The organ has four manuals (keyboards),
79 ranks and around 7,000 pipes. It was constructed using the finest materials: Vosges
pine for the bellows, maple for the console, oak for the facing. Thin
plexiglass sheets on the facing can be illuminated in various ways, to provide
a colourful visual interpretation of the instrument’s sound. For more
information about the organ, or to see and hear it, click on the external links
further down this page.
- The choir organ built by Tamburini (Crema, Italy) in 1976.
Pontifical services are held in the cathedral to mark the great liturgical
celebrations, and for the Feast of Saint Devota (27 January) and Monaco’s
National Day (19 November). It also provides the venue for remarkable spiritual
concerts to the sound of the grand organ with its four manuals. From September
to June, every Sunday at 10 am, mass is sung by "Les petits chanteurs de
Monaco" and "La Maîtrise de la cathédrale".
Free admission (except during
religious services), from 9 am to 6 pm daily.
Visitors are asked to dress respectfully: shoulders should be covered and
miniskirts and shorts are not permitted (“Bermuda” length shorts are accepted).