Monaco Museums Reviews
Jul 20, 2007
One of the first things to do in Monaco is to walk up the steep path to the rock where the Palace is. The view is awesome of the entire principality, and, of course, there’s the Palace itself to tour. There is one guard that stands outside the palace (very threatening, knowing one man is guarding an entire palace), and there is a changing of the guard at 11:30 every morning (with more than one man). If you’re not too thrilled about watching the guard change, then do the palace tour around 11 am when everyone else is waiting to see the changing of the guard, the line is really short to actually tour the Palace. The tour allows you to see the Palace State Rooms. It's no Versailles, but it is still really nice. For 2 euros more you can also gain entry to the Musee des Souvenirs Napoleoniens et Archives Historique du Palais (Museum of Napoleonic Souvenirs and the Historical Archives of the Palace). Since it said archives, as an historian, how could I refuse? I mean, I *am* here doing research as a Ph.D. candidate, right? Really, it is just a large, two story-room that has lots of Napoleon's stuff on the first floor (what's up with everyone being obsessed with having his socks -- the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto has one of his socks, too!) and then stuff from the principality on the top floor. Nothing terribly exciting other than a lot of military decorations from lots of different countries, but I can say I was at the archives of Monaco, right? The entrance to the Napoleon/archives room is just to the left of the entrance for the palace tour.
There are a few other things to see on the rock as well. In the Cathedral a little below the palace is where the Montagasque royals are buried, including Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III. It’s easy to tell which are their two graves, as they are they two that usually have flowers on them.
Also on the rock is the Oceanography Museum & Aquarium. Prince Albert I (the great-great-grandfather of the current Prince Albert II) went on four trips to the North Pole over 100 years ago and collected lots of stuff, which is the basis of most of the material in the museum. There was even a preserved lobster that is 1 m long and weighs 8 kg -- can you just imagine how much a lobster that large would cost you? or how many people that would feed? There was also a temporary exhibit when I was there comparing Albert I and Albert II's trips to the North Pole, with Albert II going on the 100th anniversary of the other Albert's trip. This, too, had a very environmental slant to it -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But the best part of the museum was the aquarium two floors below ground. One side is Mediterranean, the other side is tropical. There are a lot of really cool fish and whatnot in the tanks. The aquarium lets you know if a species is in danger, and does a lot to breed fish and share them. the aquarium was definitely worth the trip to the oceanography museum.
If you have time, go to the go to the Stade Nautique Rainier III pool that is at the port and lay out and swim. It is a salt-water pool, but even knowing that, it is still a bit odd jumping into salt water. The pool looks just like all our pools at home.... blue bottom, black tiled lines..... but a lot of salt instead of chlorine. But it is a good place to relax by the water.
Part of the The Life of a PhD Student travel blog
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