Monaco fits a lot of beautiful architecture into such a small size. From its grand Belle Époque buildings to new modernist designs, here are Culture Trip’s favourite 10 buildings that show Monaco off in all its glory.
Saint Nicholas Cathedral
Saint Nicholas Cathedral was built from 1875-1903 in gorgeous light limestone from La Turbie, nearby in France and sits within the old historic ward ‘Monaco Ville’ of Monaco. Inside, you’ll find an impressive Carrara marble altar and it’s also worth noting that it is the resting place for Princess Grace (Kelly) and other members of the royal Grimaldi family.
Monaco-Monte Carlo Train Station
If you are arriving in Monaco by train, then you will see the architecture of the principality’s railway station first-hand. If not, then definitely swing by for a look. Due to Monaco’s hilly location, the station has been built into the hillside itself and so rock and concrete combine in the very way the principality does itself: old with new.
You can find the Monte-Carlo Pavilions in the Casino’s gardens. These pebble-shaped temporary structures opened in 2014 and were designed by architect Richard Martinet as a new design take on a shopping centre. Visit them while you can, the buildings are scheduled to be demolished in 2018.
Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum is a beautifully imposing Baroque Revival building that sits on the cliff face overlooking the Mediterranean. It took 11 years to build and the stone used has the same origins (from La Turbie in France) as Saint Nicholas Cathedral. As the photo below shows, try and get a profile view of this building to see appreciate its full aspect.
From a little outside of the Monte-Carlo Casino, you’ll be able to see the Hexa Grace on the roof of the Grimaldi Forum. It’s the striking work of Victor Vasarely (1979) overlooking the sea. The colours dazzle in the sunlight and offer another dimension to the principality’s more ornate buildings.
There are many gorgeous hotels in Monaco, but a bit of roof (called the Eiffel dome) of the Hermitage Hotel is one of our favourite elements to this stunning, monument hotel. Built in the early 1900s, The Hermitage Hotel offers visitors to Monaco a truly luxurious experience and if you can’t see inside, the beautiful facade is a sight enough.
The Odeon Tower is a skyscraper in Monaco that was recently finished in 2015. In the 1980s, Prince Rainer III put a ban on high rise building projects but this was lifted in 2008. Behind the designs externally and internally are architect Alexandre Giraldi and interior designer Alberto Pinto.
Louis II Stadium
The Louis II Stadium is located in the Fontvieille district of Monaco, home to the Monaco national football team. It is very unique in its design, as the land it’s built on was actually reclaimed from the sea. The archways are quite impressive and a great sight from the walkway at ‘ground level’.
Monaco’s casino is the iconic building in the principality. Its build started in 1863 and it has played a fundamental role in the Monaco’s past and present since. The casino’s architect Charles Garnier is also known for Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris and the casino’s facade doesn’t disappoint.
The Grimaldi Forum is a conference and congress centre used to host all manner of events on Monaco’s seafront. The minimalist industrial feel of the main welcoming esplanade is in stark contrast to other buildings in our list. It is through buildings like this that you can see Monaco’s future rather than its past.