The sheltered harbor of Monaco was initially inhabited by the Greeks in 6 BC, who named it Monoikos. Legend has it that Hercules passed through Monaco and a temple was built to honor him, the Temple of Monoikos. Historically, Monaco was part of France, but in 1215, it became a colony of Genoa through a land grant from Emperor Henry VI. The Grimaldi family settled in Monaco in 1297 and ancestors of the family have controlled the principality for over 715 years now.
In 1419, the Grimaldi family acquired Monaco from the French ruling family of Aragon. Monaco has since been under Spanish, Italian and Sardinian protection. In 1793, French revolutionary troops captured Monaco, keeping it until 1814, when the Grimaldi family returned to power. Today, Monaco is governed by a constitutional monarchy, but is a protectorate of France.
In 1949, Prince Rainier III ascended to the throne of Monaco and married the beautiful American actress, Grace Kelly in 1956. Prince Rainier III played an important role in bringing economic prosperity to the area and his wife played a large part out in promoting the arts and bringing glamour to the small nation. Together, they had three children, Caroline, Albert and Stephanie. The youngest, Princess Stephanie was a tabloid staple for much of the 1980s, being a singer, fashion model and party girl.
Prince Rainier III is credited with reforming Monaco