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A Princely Palace With More Secrets

July 7, 2022
The Prince's Palace of Monaco

The Prince’s Palace of Monaco (credit: Niels Mickers) CC BY 3.0 NL <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/nl/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons

The Prince’s Palace of Monaco is considered one of the finest royal residences in Europe, and it is also one of the only palaces in Europe still in use by a crowned head of state. The Prince’s Palace, or the Palais Princier, has belonged to the Grimaldi family for over seven hundred years. The family has also held the title Prince of Monaco for as long as they’ve owned the palace. Initially built by the Genoese in the late twelfth century as a fortress, the palace has expanded with new wings and other extensions added during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. While still a functioning royal residence, the Prince’s Palace is mainly a tourist attraction. The state rooms are open to the public during summer, while the main courtyard often hosts concerts and other events. But now, after an extensive, eight-year restoration, past visitors can see some of the palace’s treasures for the first time.

During the project, restorers uncovered several Renaissance frescoes. Based on the style and the use of lime-based plaster, specialists believe they’re likely the work of a Genoese painter from around the sixteenth century. The frescoes depict scenes from classical mythology, like the twelve labors of Hercules, which were painted over in the nineteenth century. Over six hundred square meters of frescoes have been uncovered throughout the palace: around the courtyard, the ceilings of the many salons, and even the throne room. In recent years, Prince Albert II has tried to recover many of the princely family’s collections that were lost over the years, mainly during the Napoleonic Wars when the palace was looted several times. Today, visitors can view works by Jacopo Bassano, Orazio de Ferrari, and Philippe de Champaigne that once belonged to the Grimaldi family. So now, these newly reacquired treasures can stand alongside the treasures hiding under some paint. The palace state rooms will remain open to the public until October 15th.