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Visiting Saint-Charles church, Monte Carlo, Monaco: sedate, 19th century French neo-Renaissance architecture

Updated on February 20, 2016
Flag of Monaco
Flag of Monaco | Source
Saint-Charles church, Monaco
Saint-Charles church, Monaco | Source
Map location of Monaco
Map location of Monaco | Source

A striking landmark in the Principality

This parish church in Monte Carlo, Monaco, was executed in French, neo-Renaissance style by architect Charles Lenormand (1). Its foundation stone was laid in 1879 and completion was achieved in 1883.

The church was founded by Prince Charles of Monaco, who ruled the Principality between 1856 and 1889.

From the interior 19 stained glass windows may be viewed.

The bell tower is 30 metres high. The front elevation of the church is made particularly striking by the flight of steps which leads to the entrance at the south side of the building. The tower, with its distinctive cupola, which particularly struck me, is a landmark in the neighbourhood, and in parts of the adjacent, French town of Beausoleil.

Interestingly, there were plans for the parish church of neighbouring Beausoleil, France, built in the early 20th century, to have a tower which would have been higher than that of Saint-Charles church. However, because of funding problems on the French side of the border, this did not materlialize and the tower of Saint-Charles is thus unrivalled in the immediate neighbourhood!

On the site of the current Saint-Charles parish church was the former chapel of Saint-Laurent. The land on which Saint-Charles parish church was built belonged previously to the Blanc family. Road access may be obtained to the building by avenue Saint-Charles and avenue Saint-Laurent .

Some of the wood carvings within the church building date from the 17th century, having been taken from the former church of Saint-Nicolas in Monaco Town, prior to its replacement by Monaco Cathedral. The large organ in the church building is by M.Merklin and was installed in 1884.

The church has a strong musical tradition. The church's choir has been recorded many times.

In 1983, the stonework of the building was refurbished following decades of gradual degradation partly caused by the sea air.


(1) Architect Charles Lenormand was also responsible for Monaco Cathedral, in Monaco Town. He also worked on repairs to the Prince's Palace in 1887 after it was hit by an earthquake.

Also worth seeing

The visitor attractions of Monaco are too numerous to summerize adequately, but a few of these include the Prince's Palace and the Napoleon Museum; the Stamp and Coin Museum in Fontvieille; the Princess Grace Rose Garden; the Oceanographic Museum.

Beausoleil, France (distance by road: 1.4 kilometres; NB: by foot, involving climbing steep steps, the distance is shorter) the parish church at place du Commandant Raynal is of architectural note. The Town Hall is also of note.


How to get there: Delta Airlines flies direct from New York to Nice, France (Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur ), where car rental is available. Bus links also exist from Nice airport to Monaco. The French railroad company SNCF maintains services to Monaco from Downtown Nice. Please be aware that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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