Monoikos – Monaco: The lone house in the glorious anthill


Before I travelled to Monaco this summer I read up on it. They say that Hercules traveled the area and cast out the previous gods. Hence they constructed him a temple and called the resulting town Monoikos. The name derives from Greek and means as much as single or lone house, probably referring to the fact that once Hercules’ temple was the only house near and far.

Today, the prices for property in Monaco belong to the highest in the world. On an area of only 2.02 km2 / 0.78 sq mi live more than 36,000 people. This makes Monaco the second smallest, and the most densely populated country in the world. (If you now wonder: only Vatican State is smaller.) No wonder that the most striking impression I had was that it resembles quite the anthill; a glorious anthill with public elevators and hidden staircases leading from level to level though, but an anthill.

Yet, despite the close quarters and the hundreds of tourists spit out from busses and cruise liners into the narrow streets every day, it still feels a bit like the Monoikos – the lone house. It wasn’t just that Prince Albert appeared without any other family member to the different official ceremonies etc. of the TV Festival. Wherever people gathered or walked they didn’t seem to come together, but stayed for themselves. Maybe it is all about the name.

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