Monaco’s 36,686 residents make it one of the most densely populated countries in the world, but only 9000 of them are original citizens or Monégasques. The rest mostly reside in the tiny principality for upto six months of the year to comply with residency laws and to make use of the personal tax benefits and lack of inheritance tax. In order to get those benefits they will have deposited at least half a million euros in a Monaco bank and rented or bought some of the most expensive property in the world. It’s no surprise that one in three of Monaco’s residents are millionaires, and more than a few billionaires call it home.
The development on this small piece of land between the sea and the Alps is dense but clever. To get its citizens up and down the precipitous principality, the streets are riddled with hidden lifts, stairs and escalators that are outside, not in. Tunnels connect many of the principality’s wards, travelled by vehicle or by foot.
On the surface, Monaco is a noisy, busy place, but you can find solitude and even peace. It has three major green areas: the Japanese Garden (Jardin Japonais) with its amazing sea views; the Jardin Exotique which looks down on the principality from an outcrop; and Jardin Saint-Martin on Le Rocher. There are many other smaller parks, but they’re mostly in the residential areas above Larvotto where it’s quieter. Some of these areas remain quiet all year as the tourists rarely stray from the coastal area.
Le Rocher (The Rock) is also home to the Prince’s Palace, where the current Prince of Monaco resides and where you’ll find some of Monaco’s most impressive architecture. The House of Grimaldi was founded in Italy by Francesco Grimaldi who in 1297 took the lordship of Monaco. His successors have reigned to the present day.