Why has Monaco shrunk?

Why has Monaco shrunk?

 September 4, 2023
 about 4 minutes

First of all, let' s put ourselves in the historical context of the time!

In 1162, Genoa obtained the authority of Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa over the Ligurian coast from Porto Venere to Monaco.
In 1191, Emperor Henry VI granted Genoa control of Monaco, including its port and surrounding lands.
The Genoese established a colony on the Rock and built a castle in 1215, becoming the Republic's western frontier.

Photo of the view from the rock of the principality of monaco

Photo credit Istock Ville de Monaco

In 1270, civil war broke out between the Guelphs, supporters of the Pope, and the Ghibellines, supporters of the German Emperor.
The Ghibellines prevailed, leading to the exile of many Guelph families, including the Grimaldis, a powerful Genoese family.
They settled on the Rock of Monaco in medieval times.

In response to the Guelphs' exile, Monaco Castle was taken by surprise on January 8, 1297 by François Grimaldi, nicknamed "Malizia".
Charles Grimaldi, leader of the Guelfes, took control of the Rock on September 12, 1331 and became "Lord of Monaco" in 1342.
The Grimaldis acquired the seigneuries of Menton and Roquebrune in 1346 and 1355.
These territories, together with Monaco, formed the Principality from 1633 to 1861.

Photo of the town of menton on the Côte D'azur, bordering Monaco

istock photo credit - Ville de menton

But then, you're going to tell me that Monaco is actually getting bigger!

In 1847, the Principality covered an area of 24.5 km².
Today, however, its surface area has shrunk considerably to 2.02 km², representing a loss of more than 90% of its original territory.

photo of the sea view from the heights of Roquebrune

CRédit photo OAT office du tourisme de Roquebrune

Why has Monaco's surface area shrunk?

The communes of Roquebrune and Menton were originally part of the Principality of Monaco.
However, they were lost in 1861, when they were annexed to France.
One of the main reasons for this was the increase in taxes on Menton's agricultural exports, particularly products such as oils and lemons.
This provoked a revolt in the two communes, which chose to break away from the Principality.
To formalize their attachment, France agreed to pay Monaco 4 million gold francs in compensation.
This transaction enabled Roquebrune and Menton to become French communes.

must-do on the French Riviera

Lemon Festival float @istock

The question we can ask ourselves is:

How did it become such a popular destination after this loss of territory?

The loss of these agricultural territories had a financial impact on the Principality of Monaco, as it lost part of its income from these agricultural activities.
As a result, Monaco used the compensation money to reinvent itself as a luxury tourist destination, focusing on the development of seaside resorts and introducing gambling activities, particularly gambling, which were prohibited in France and Italy at the time.

This territorial and economic transformation played an important role in redefining Monaco.
The city became a high-end tourist center and gambling destination, which contributed to its subsequent economic development.

Photo of the gambling casino

Monte-Carlo Casino

Now that you know, I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you what else you can visit on the rock.

The Rock is also known for its famous Formula Formula 1 race, the Grand Prix .
This iconic street race takes place every year in the city's narrow, winding streets, offering one of the most prestigious and demanding challenges on the Formula 1 calendar.

The first Grand Prix was held in 1929 and has become one of the most prestigious races in the Formula 1 world.
Due to its narrow layout and tight corners, the circuit is particularly difficult to master, making it a true test of skill for drivers.
Celebrities, royalty and motorsport enthusiasts from all over the world flock to this spectacular event every year.

The Grand Prix is unique in that it passes through the heart of the city, offering spectators incredible views of the Mediterranean Sea, the port and the Rock itself.

Another must is the changing the guard.
It takes place in front of the Princely Palace, the official residence of the Sovereign Prince.
This ceremony is an important tradition and a popular tourist attraction.

If you would like to visit Monaco, please do not hesitate to contact :
Monaco Tourist Office > https://www.visitmonaco.com/fr


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