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The Rocher

Temple to the sea

The Rocher

Temple to the sea

The oceanographic museum has been inaugurated on the 29 of March 1910 by the Prince Albert 1st. It is located at the cliff edge of “Le Rocher”. The first rock of this monumental building has been placed in April 1899, ten years after Albert 1st decided to make it a real “temple to the sea”.
From 1885 to 1915, the Prince Albert 1st carried out 28 oceanographic expeditions on his vessels: “l’Hirondelle” (1&2) and the “Princesse Alice” (1&2). The building of the museum allowed him to not only present the results of his explorations but also to study them. The diffusion of his new knowledges all over the world has been allowed thanks to the creation of the Institute of Oceanography of Monaco in 1904.

Oceanographic Museum

Seven years before the launching of the museum, the first fishes and invertebrates, all derived from the Prince Albert 1st’ explorations were introduced in reinforced concrete pools. Nowadays, visitors can discover thousands of species over the 6000 square meters open to the public.



The building is 85 meters high from the sea level since its foundations are realized directly on rock.

6 000


Are open to the public inside the museum which celebrated its centenary in 2010.

650 000


The number of people visiting the museum every year.



The museum covers 100 meters from the Saint-Martin Gardens to the Antoine’s Fort.


The birth of a monument

After years of architectural research to solve technical constraints of such a cliffside building,ten years were needed to build the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco.

These two clichés allow to grasp the technical prowess of such an enterprise at the very beginning of the XX Century!At least this was needed so that the building reflected the passion of Prince Albert 1st for the oceans and even more generally for science.In 1907,while the workers were finishing the big work,fishes and invertebrates were already conserved inside the museum in basins in reinforced cement.
Photos Archives Monte-Carlo SBM


A prestigious inauguration

Aware of the project’s magnitude , Prince Albert 1st armed himself with patience to see emergence from the ground “his” Temple of the Sea.On the 29th of March 1910,his dream became a reality.

Over twenty years were necessary between the start of the project and for its achievement by the architect Paul Delefortrie. The inauguration of the museum had to be up to such as enterprise and its in front of very numerous personalities,ministers and foreign heads of
state,artists,that the Prince Albert 1st inaugurated his work.At nightfall,Monaco Ville(City) and the whole of the Principality benefited from a beautiful firework display.
Photos Archives Monte-Carlo SBM

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A real architectural challenge

Its to the french architect,Paul Delefortrie that was entrusted the construction of the Museum at the end of the XIX Century.

To build this immense monument,multiple technical problems had to be overcome due to the chosen location.Indeed,Prince Albert 1st desired the integrity of its Saint-Martin Gardens,and to destroy in no way the belt that they formed around the old city.Therefore,twenty years of waiting were needed before being able to see the museum finally opening its doors. The building is mainly made of white stone from La Turbie and of limestone from Brescia for the elements of particular interest like the columns of the facade and the interior or the monumental staircase.

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The yellow submarine of Cousteau

In front of the entry of the museum,a small yellow submarine is left to be admired by visitors that are always curious.

This boat was used by the Commandant Jacques-Yves Cousteau.Born in 1910,the year of the inauguration of the Oceanographic Museum,this latter was its third director from 1957 to 1988,date of his election to the French Academy.Inventor of numerous devices that allowed maritime explorations,the man with the red hat hadn’t stopped to sensitise his contemporaries to the submarine world.Like the Prince Albert 1st in his time,made him discover the richness of the environment,yet also its big fragility.

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The heritage of the Prince Albert 1st

A couple of steps from the Museum,in the beautiful Saint-Martin Gardens,a bronze representing the Prince Albert 1st facing the storm.

“The Marine Prince”(also known as the “Savant Prince”)is also represented in the interior of the Museum,in a posture that indeed suggests a sea less agitated.Here,the Prince Albert 1st nearly hangs on to the boat’s helm,in his representation in marble at the Museum,he wears his uniform and scans the horizon with his binoculars.These two sculptures show all the passion that the Sovereign had for the sea and the Submarine world.A passion that has transmitted the most beautiful and most durable of ways by making his “Temple of the Sea” being built.

Temple to the sea