Visiting the Palace of Justice in Monaco Town: Ornate, Legal Symbol of the Principality
Commissioned by HSH Prince Louis II
As a sovereign state, the Principality of Monaco naturally has its own laws, and judicial system. It should therefore come as no surprise that the system of justice has its own headquarters: these are constituted by the Palace of Justice (Palais de Justice )(1) in Monaco Town (Monaco-Ville ).
A bust of HSH Prince Honoré II of Monaco is worked into the frontage; when one considers that Honoré II was the first ruler to be styled Prince of Monaco in 1633, thus reinforcing the country's sovereignty and emergent law-making capacity, the particular appropriateness of the bust of this illustrious Prince is evident.
According to the Principality's Constitution, the juduciary exercises in his name the delegated authority of Prince of Monaco. The Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority.
French and Italian officials have regularly joined the Monégasgue judiciary at formal opening sessions of the Palace of Justice.
Some features of the building
This ornate, neo-Florentine style building was commissioned in 1922 by Monaco's ruling monarch HSH Prince Louis II, who reigned from 1922 until 1949. Its design was the responsibility of Monégasque architect Fulbert Auréglia. The building was inaugurated on May 1, 1930.
Italian sea tuff stone was used, quarried in Borgio-Vereza and Finale-Marine. Two different stone colours were noticeably employed in its contruction: a darker stone for the steps, in comparison to the white, upper section of the building (2). It is said that this was done in order for the structure to stand in contrast with the white stone of nearby Monaco Cathedral. This neighbouring building is probably much better known internationally than the Palace of Justice, because of highly publicized events such as the wedding of HSH Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly (who thus became HSH Princess Grace) in 1956.
Some uninformed observers question the authenticity of the Principality's institutions (3); however, its system of laws are very much an active entity and the Palace of Justice is working building; as such, its interior is not open to the public.
(1) French usage of the word 'palais' (palace) is sometimes somewhat broader than its English equivalent, and can denote a significant public building. Monaco's Palace of Justice is certainly grand, if relatively small.
(2) The Italian styling of the building and its judicial use are perhaps a latent reminder that the Principality, with its many historical links with Italy, in some ways resembles some of the prosperous Italian city states which existed in the Middle Ages. However, the legal system of Monaco is probably closer to French law; and indeed French judges are regularly commissioned to work for the Principality, in order to meet a shortfall in Monégasque legal talent.
(3) One French politician was even known to have called for French paratroopers to intervene in Monégasque affairs: hardly a respectful attitude to another sovereign state, and probably more indicative of disagreement with aspects of Monaco's laws rather than of any thought that the Principality's institutions were not authentic.
Also worth seeing
Visitor attractions in Monaco are plentiful; a very few of these by way of summary would include: Monaco Cathedral, almost adjacent to the Palace of Justice; the Prince's Palace frontage and its daily changing of the guard ceremony; the Napoleon Museum situated in a wing of the Prince's Palace. The Oceanographic Museum in Monaco-Town and the Stamp and Coin Museum in Fontvieille attract many visitors.
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. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.