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Monaco - where everything that glitters is, if not gold, then certainly diamonds. This tiny principality held snug against the alps is bred on excesses. The rich and the famous flock here to shelter their wealth from taxes and show it off to one another. A magical place where fortunes have been won and lost, a tiny country that defies belief. The second smallest state in the world after Vatican City and a heritage that goes back to 1297. Monaco has been hosting the Monte Carlo Grand Prix since 1929 and F1 Demons has brought out this page to satisfy your thirst for information on this tiny, densely populated principality becomes the most important venue for F1 racing.
In the year 1297 François Grimaldi and his Guelph supporters seized the fortress of Monaco thus sinking the root of the Grimaldi dynasty which is now the longest reigning dynasty in the world. What makes Monaco so special is the the fact that it despite its size it has managed to retain its independence and has progressed economically defying belief. 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; from west to east these are Cap d'Ail, la Turbie, Beausoleil and Roquebrune Cap Martin. Seawards, Monaco faces the Mediterranean. The population of the Principality consists of 29,972 inhabitants, 5,070 of whom are Monégasques, 12,047 French and 5,000 Italian (according to the last official census in 1990). Its surface area is 485 acres, of which nearly 100 were recovered from the sea during the course of the last twenty years. It lies in 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 :
Traditionally Monaco has been famous for its casinos but more recently it has become an industrial hub. It has no income or inheritance tax and therefore is full of people who flock to this tiny principality to hid their money and show it off to one another. This is certainly the ultimate playgroung of the rich. The rich and the super rich flock to Monaco to set up residence there. However those with residence permits are expected to occupy them for at least six months a year. But nobody does.
For several centuries, the citadel of Monaco was coveted by the enemies of the Grimaldi, resulting in many conflicts with the Genoese, the French and the Spanish. For this reason, for nearly 400 years, the Rock maintained its character as a fortress and was principally concerned to develop its defences. Towards the middle of the XVIIth century, Prince Honoré II (1597-1662) undertook the earliest steps to transform it into a palace. The military structures were retained, but the interior was totally altered so as to house the superb collections of paintings by master artists, tapestries and precious furniture. Towards 1690, Prince Louis I (1642-1700) had constructed the great gate which still exists today. This gate opens on to the Court of Honour, admirable in its proportions, with its double stairway in Carrara marble leading to the Gallery of Hercules and which, despite the modifications carried out, may be considered as the old central part of the fortress built at the beginning of the XIIIth century. The Treaty of Paris of 1815 restored full and complete sovereignty to Monaco and Honoré IV (1758-1819) and Honoré V (1778-1841) undertook the restoration of the Palace robbed of its collections and damaged to a considerable extent during the French Revolution. Florestan I (1785-1856) pursued the work of restoration with success. Charles III (1818-1889) had the St Mary's Tower and the buildings surrounding it reconstructed in the style of Florentine palaces. He gave the Chapel of St Jean the Baptist, built in 1656, a new altar. Albert I (1848-1922) had the Clock Tower constructed using white stone from la Turbie. Louis II (1870-1949) directed his activities to large-scale maintenance work. Since his accession in 1949, H.S.H. Prince Rainier III has adopted as his goal the embellishment and modernization of the Palace. The old frescoes were restored. The Court of Honour was paved with three million white and coloured stones forming immense geometrical figures. The southern wing, destroyed during the Revolution, was rebuilt and now houses the private apartments of the Sovereign's family as well as the Museum of Souvenirs of Napoleon and the Archives of the Prince's Palace. The great apartments are open to the public from June to October, while the Napoleonic Museum and the Archive collection may be visited throughout the year. Every day, at midday, the ceremony of the Changing of the Guard is performed by the section of the carabiniers responsible for guarding the Prince's Palace. It takes place on the Palace Square, using a ceremonial involving a great deal of marching and counter-marching which evokes the admiration of the large number of tourists.
The Oceanographic Museum is one of main attractions for tourists in the Principality (it houses the collections made during the course of numerous cruises of this "Scientist Prince" whose work provides the basis of modern oceanography. Built by Prince Rainier's great Grandfather Prince Albert I, one of the vocations of the Museum is to welcome scientists from all over the world who have 2,000 square metres of laboratories at their disposal. On the ground floor, the collections on show represent the complete range of marine and submarine fauna with the often gigantic skeletons of oceanic mammals. Also to be seen are the diving saucers and other equipment used during his researches by Commandant Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Director of the Museum until 1988. On the first floor there are models of the various ships used by Prince Albert I for his explorations and the laboratory, reconstructed full-scale, of "Hirondelle II", his favourite yacht. There is also a hall devoted to oceanographic research, considered to be one of the most complete in the world. Finally, the aquarium, one of the most spectacular in Europe, with nearly 4,000 fish (around 350 different species) occupying 90 basins. The Museum also houses a meteorological station and a seismological observatory. Finally, the public terrace provides a magnificent panoramic view of the Italian Riviera and the Massif of the Esterel.
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