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The Principality of Monaco
The smallest sovereign state in the world (beyond the papal Vatican City) where the French Alps fall steeply to the sea, Monaco is surrounded by the Côte d’Azur of France on the Mediterranean Sea and is very near Italy, as it was once part of medieval Genovese.
The city-state is one official principality that is divided into five modern geographic areas:
- Monaco-Ville, known as Le Rocher (the Rock), with medieval charm and cobbled streets, is the official capital, though in reality just a district for the royal castle palace, Palais Princier, Saint Nicholas Cathedral, and governmental and judicial buildings.
- Monte Carlo / Spélugues with Saint Michel includes Carre d’Or, the Golden Square, known for luxurious hotels and the grand Monte Carlo Casino; Larvotto / Bas Moulins is the seafront district with beaches along ritzy Avenue Princess Grace; Saint Roman / La Rousse houses the Tour Odeon.
- La Condamine includes the deep-water Port Hercules; Jardin Exotique with La Colle and Les Révoires has stunning gardens and views of the ports.
- Moneghetti, the original native Monégasque area, houses the only train station, Gare de Monaco-Monte Carlo.
- Fontvielle is reclaimed land with a smaller port.
Monaco has been ruled by the Grimaldi family of Genoa (Genova), Italy, since 1297, though they struggled to maintain control of “the Rock” for over a century. The Crown of Aragon took it over for a time until the family outright purchased the land in 1419. Today, citizens called Monégasque live tax-free under a constitutional monarchy, originally formed in 1911. Prince Albert II has been sovereign since the death of his father, Prince Ranier III, in 2005.
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capital area of Monaco