The present day Cathedral of Monaco symbolizes the rebirth of this small principality in the late 19th century, when Monaco turned into independent and very rich country. The old, medieval church was torn down and in its place was built new, magnificent cathedral.
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Present-day cathedral is located in the place where the first chapel of Monaco was built.
Permit to build a Christian chapel at the Castle of Monaco was issued by Innocent IV in 1247. This letter was issued on the day of Saint Nicholas of Myra – the same prototype of contemporary Santa Claus. Thus in 1322, it was decided to dedicate this church to this saint, patron of seafarers.
Construction of this church started in 1252 and over the years this structure was extended and made more beautiful.
After lengthy quarrels the parish of Monaco was separated from the Diocese of Nice in 1868, and it was decided to build a new, large cathedral.
It was a time when Monaco suddenly became prosperous – there was built a railway and the prince of Monaco had the happy thought to build a luxurious casino in 1863. Thus the small principality had the means to afford an impressive cathedral.
In 1874 the old church of Saint Nicholas was demolished and in 1875 the construction of the new cathedral started.
Cathedral was designed by Charles Lenormand, architect from Paris. For the construction was used the wonderful, light-colored limestone from the nearby La Turbie in France.
Construction lasted until 1903 and the cathedral was consecrated in 1911.
Today the cathedral plays important role in the cultural and religious life of the country. Here are organized numerous events such as the singing of Cathedral Choir School.
The history of the royal family is closely linked to the cathedral – here are buried numerous members of the Grimaldi family including Albert I, Grave Kelly, and Rainier III. Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier married here in 1956.
Cathedral was built in the Neo-Romanesque style with many features in the Neo-Byzantine style.
Sculptures in the facade were made by Henri Louis Cordier in 1883 – 1901. In this period of time he made also sculptures for the casino in Monte Carlo.
Beautiful is the Neo-Byzantine mosaic on the apse of the cathedral.
Cathedral has 183 stained glass windows, all restored after the damage in World War II.
From the old church has been inherited important pieces of Renaissance art. Especially notable are paintings: retable paintings by Ludovico Brea, a famous Renaissance painter were made around 1500 and show Mary Magdalene, Saint John with the donator for the painting – Antoine Teste at his feet as well as Saint Nicholas, Saint Stephen, Saint Lawrence, and archangel Michael weighing souls. Another important piece of art is "Pieta" by François Brea (nephew of Louis Brea), painted in the time period between 1500 and 1505.
From the old Chapel comes also the Chapel of Blessed Sacrament with a beautiful altar made from gilded walnut in Spanish Renaissance style, in 1667. This chapel serves as a funeral chapel for bishops and archbishops of Monaco.
In the cathedral are two organs, also the Grand Organ with 7000 pipes which was installed in 1976-1980. It is adorned with thin plates of plexiglass which can be illuminated according to the tone of the instrument.
- Eve Ann Lovero, Vino Con Vista Italy Travel Guides and Events, The Cathedral of Monaco in the French Riviera and the Royal Weddings. Accessed on July 19, 2015
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