The Cathedral of Monaco (St Nicholas Cathedral) was built in 1875 on the site of a 13th century church dedicated to Saint Nicolas. Constructed in the Roman-Byzantine style using white stones brought from La Turbie it presents an imposing building which has been used as the burial place for the Grimaldi Princes of Monaco including Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace the former American Actress Grace Kelly who married Prince Rainier in the Cathedral in 1956. She was killed when she drove off the road following a stroke she had while driving on 13 September 1982. Her tomb in the cathedral has become something of a shine with flowers still being left there and large queues filing past. Prince Rainier was buried alongside her following his death in 2005.
Access to the cathedral is provided by a staircase across the full width of the façade. Above the entrance portal is a rose window which should be viewed from the interior.
The interior is illuminated by natural lighting which gives the building a pleasant welcoming feeling.
Straight in front of the entrance is the Great Organ. The Cathedral has housed a number of organs in the gallery situated above the narthex, the first one being installed in 1887 this was replaced by a larger one which was completed in 1968. The current organ was built in 1975 and was overhauled and replaced in 1987 and has 4840 pipes which are controlled by four keyboards.
To the side are a number of altars and religious works of art. On entry to the left is the Baptistery, on the right is the Chapel of the Relics of St Devote the patron saint of the Royal Family. The chapel contains the reliquary of the Saint, the altar which is dedicated to him and the door of the Tabernacle of the first parish church.
The chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is located just past the transept on the right of the nave, this contains the altar of gilded walnut from the old St Nicholas church. This chapel is the funeral chapel of the Bishops and archbishops of Monaco and their graves are situated under the floor.
The high alter and the Episcopal throne of Carrara white marble and an altarpiece by the Niçois painter Louis Bréa dating from 1500 are at the end of the nave in the centre of the choir of the Cathedral.
Behind the altar is the ambulatory which contains the tombs of the princes of Monaco and their wives these are arranged around a centre ellipse. These used to be located in the Chapel of the Princes but were moved to this location in 1962 on the instructions of Prince Rainier III.
To see more photographs and take a virtual tour of the site click on the photoshow below.