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History of Monaco: From sleepy backwater to home of the rich and famous 

History of Monaco: From sleepy backwater to home of the rich and famous 

by Joanna Lewis


The history of Monaco tells a fascinating tale. A sovereign nation dating back to the 13th century, Monaco was not always the destination of choice for the world’s rich and famous. So, how did Monaco transform itself from a little-known destination along the French Riviera to the playground of the world’s wealthiest? Keep on reading to learn more about the history of Monaco and why so many wish to call this lavish destination home.

The History of Monaco


The history of Monaco shows that the city-state used to be part of France and also Italy. A sleepy backwater, much of Monaco’s land was used for cultivating fruit and olive trees.


In 1297 the Grimaldi family, who have ruled Monaco for more than 700 years (albeit with some brief interruptions); settled in the city state, and since then, Monaco’s history has been tied to the House of Grimaldi.


In 1861 Monaco became an independent state when the Franco-Monegasque Treaty officially recognised the country’s sovereignty.


Monaco’s transformation; the Monte-Carlo Casino



It was the development of Monaco’s Monte-Carlo Casino in 1863 – on the ground that was formerly used for cultivating olives, oranges and lemons – which was the turning point in Monaco’s history, helping the principality to transform into one of the world’s most wealthy destinations.


In 1864 the adjacent Hotel de Paris was opened by Charles III – offering a grand destination for visitors to stay. Soon, lavish hotels, restaurants, spas, and boutiques opened up to cater to wealthy visitors.


The creation of a railway link with France in 1878 cemented Monaco’s success, enabling ever-growing numbers to visit the principality and enjoy its casino and an increasing number of lavish offerings.


Favorable tax changes

Throughout Monaco’s history, the Grimaldi family have approved strategic tax changes that have helped to make Monaco a highly attractive destination.


In 1869 income taxes were scrapped altogether, allowing individuals to retain more of their wealth. There are also no direct taxes levied on companies, capital gains tax, wealth taxes, property taxes, and no inheritance taxes on direct line beneficiaries. All of this makes living, working, and owning property in Monaco highly attractive. 


The Grimaldi Family

Photo by: inspireme.montecarlo- Eric Mathon

The Grimaldi family is one of the most famous families in the world and are intrinsically tied to the history of Monaco.


One of the Grimaldi family’s most famous members is Prince Rainier III, who ruled Monaco for more than 55 years, from 1949 to his death in 2005. He is the longest ruling monarch in Monaco’s history and was central to the development of Monaco’s economic success, shifting its economic reliance on gambling to its status as a favourable tax haven that attracts the world’s wealthiest to its shores. However, he is perhaps best known for marrying American actress Grace Kelly.  

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Today, Monaco is ruled by Prince Rainier III’s son, Prince Albert. He is married to former Olympic swimmer Princess Charlene. Together they have two children; twins Princess Gabrielle and Prince Jacques. 


Demand for Monaco property for sale soars


As Monaco established itself as one of the world’s most sought-after destinations, demand for luxury Monaco property for sale soared. 


As one of the world’s smallest countries – second only to the Vatican City – Monaco has relied on a series of land reclamation projects to keep up with the demand for Monaco property for sale.  


Land reclamation projects include the Larvotto beach district, La Condamine, a recent expansion of Port Hercules, and the district of Fontivielle, which reclaimed some 10 acres of land from the sea in the 1960s.


The largest and most ambitious land reclamation project in the history of Monaco is the new eco-district Mareterra. The €2 billion project, which will reclaim some 11 acres of land from the sea, will offer a selection of luxury apartments, penthouses, townhouses, and super-prime villas, in addition to retail space and a new marina. As Monaco now looks to the future, Mareterra is being built with the latest sustainable features, in line with Prince Albert’s aim to make the city state carbon neutral by 2050.    


There is no question that the history of Monaco is as fascinating as the destination itself. 

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