The Prince's Palace of Monaco
is the official residence of the Prince of Monaco
. Founded in 1191 as a Genoese fortress
, during its long and often dramatic history it has been bombarded and besieged by many foreign powers. Since the end of the 13th century, it has been the stronghold and home of the Grimaldi
family who first captured it in 1297. The Grimaldi ruled the area first as feudal
lords, and from the 17th century as sovereign
princes, but their power was often derived from fragile agreements with their larger and stronger neighbours. Thus while other European sovereigns were building luxurious, modern Renaissance
palaces, politics and common sense demanded that the palace of the Monaco rulers be fortified. This unique requirement, at such a late stage in history, has made the palace at Monaco one of the most unusual in Europe. Ironically, when its fortifications were finally relaxed during the late 18th century, it was seized by the French and stripped of its treasures, and fell into decline, while the Grimaldi were exiled for over 20 years. The Grimaldi's occupation of their palace is also unusual because, unlike other European ruling families, the absence of alternative palaces and land shortages have resulted in their use of the same residence for more than seven centuries. Thus, their fortunes and politics are directly reflected in the evolution of the palace.