Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate

4, rue Colonel Bellando de Castro
98000 Monaco

This Roman-Byzantine style building was constructed in 1875 using white stone from La Turbie. It houses the tombs of Monaco’s former Princes. Inside, alongside the magnificent high altar and the Episcopal throne made from white Carrara marble, stands a retable by the Niçois painter Louis Bréa, which dates from the year 1500.

A little history

The Rock of Monaco became a fortified citadel between 1215 and 1240. A Papal Bull, issued by Pope Innocent IV on 6 December 1247, created the first Parish independent from that of La Turbie, and granted permission to build a church dedicated to Saint Nicholas, patron saint of seafarers. Completed in 1321, the church stood on the site now occupied by the present-day cathedral’s transept. The parish cemetery was located in the area that is now the nave. During the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, eight chapels were built along the aisles.

In 1868, the territory of the Principality of Monaco was separated from the diocese of Nice. A decision was made to demolish the six hundred year-old Saint Nicholas church,  to build the present cathedral in its place. On 6 January 1875, Prince Charles III laid the foundation stone. Dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, its secondary patrons are Saint Nicholas and Saint Benedict. The cathedral was consecrated on 11 June 1911.



The organs

The Cathedral of Monaco houses two organs:

  • The Grand Organ, on the gallery above the narthex, built by Jean-Loup Boisseau in 1976, in collaboration with Pierre Cochereau and canon Henri Carol, who was the resident organist from 1976 until his death in 1984. René Saorgin succeeded him until 2005. The current resident organist Olivier Vernet, who has held the position since 1 January 2006.

Reconstruction work on the grand organ was carried out by the organ-makers Thomas of Belgium. The renovation work was completed in December 2011, leaving Monaco with an instrument that is both architecturally and musically unique. The organ has four manuals (keyboards), 79 ranks and around 7,000 pipes. It was constructed using the finest materials: Vosges pine for the bellows, maple for the console, oak for the facing. Thin plexiglass sheets on the facing can be illuminated in various ways, to provide a colourful visual interpretation of the instrument’s sound. For more information about the organ, or to see and hear it, click on the external links further down this page.

  • The choir organ built by Tamburini (Crema, Italy) in 1976.

Pontifical services are held in the cathedral to mark the great liturgical celebrations, and for the Feast of Saint Devota (27 January) and Monaco’s National Day (19 November). It also provides the venue for remarkable spiritual concerts to the sound of the grand organ with its four manuals. From September to June, every Sunday at 10 am, mass is sung by "Les petits chanteurs de Monaco" and "La Maîtrise de la cathédrale".

Free admission (except during religious services), from 9 am to 6 pm daily.
Visitors are asked to dress respectfully: shoulders should be covered and miniskirts and shorts are not permitted (“Bermuda” length shorts are accepted).