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In 1215, the Ghibellines faction of Genoa established a fortress at the Rock of Monaco, and other Genovese soon followed. Francesco Grimaldi of Italy invaded Monaco, infiltrated the fortress, and ruled it for a few years in 1297. The House of Grimaldi and the Genovese both fought over control of Monaco for many years. The Grimaldi family officially took control when they bought the land from Aragon. Monaco became a French protectorate in 1642, which it remained until the French Revolution, when it was fully taken over by France in 1793. The House of Grimaldi was restored in 1814, and Monaco became a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia instead. Monaco returned to French protection with the Treaty of Turin in 1860, but the people of Monaco declared independence. France fought for control, but in 1861 Monaco agreed to give up some of its territory in return for independence.
In the 1900s, Monaco established itself as a destination for rich people, who enjoyed the lack of income tax in the small principality. Monaco signed another agreement with France that ensured French protection of Monaco. Italy invaded Monaco under the leadership of Mussolini in 1943, until Nazi Germany took its place. Since it was restored, Monaco has been under the continuous rule of the House of Grimaldi.
Monaco is bordered on three sides by France, with coastline along the Mediterranean Sea, across which is Italy.
Monaco is a city-state, divided into wards, including Monaco-Ville, Monte Carlo, and Fontvieille.
Monaco is the second smallest country in the world (after Vatican City), situated along the southern coast of France, known as the French Riviera. Monaco is mostly coastal, stretching just 4.1 kilometers (2.5 miles) along the coast. As such a small country, most of Monaco's land area is urban.
Monaco's terrain includes Mont Agel, which is home to the country's highest point at Chemin des Revoires, which stands at an elevation of just 161 meters (528 feet). The country's longest river is Saint-Jean, and Fontvieille is a scenic lake.
Monaco is best known for Monte Carlo and its Grand Casino, which is a very high class and expensive casino. There are a few other casinos in Monaco that are more casual and typical. The Rock of Monaco, or Monaco-Ville is the old town, with medieval architecture and the Prince's Palace, along with government buildings. Palais Princier (Prince's Palace) is guarded by Carabiners, who are the special guards of the royal family. The changing of the guard ceremony is a nice attraction for visitors, and tours of the palace are also available. The cathedral features Roman and Byzantine architectural influences, and is the final resting place of the royal family.
Another important attraction in Monaco is the Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium, which is home to an impressive collection of sea creatures and artifacts.
Monaco does not have its own airport, but France's Nice Cote-d'Azur International is the nearest airport, and offers shuttles to Monte Carlo. Helicopter is an option for entering Monaco from the airport in Nice. Trains from cities in Italy and France are a good option for traveling to Monaco. There are tourist trains that travel across Monaco, called the Azur Express, which stop at the port, Monte Carlo, and the Old Town, among other tourist attractions.
The roads in and around Monaco are well maintained and easy to use, with major highways and some scenic roads along the edge of the sea. With two ports, Port Hercule and Port of Fontvieille, Monaco is also easily accessible by boat or ferry.
Last Updated on : December 10, 2013