In August most of Europe goes on holiday
This is the story of one of the most popular family games to succeed in Europe over the last 50 years. In reaching the old continent, Monopoly changed for each country. And one of the 28 squares adapted multiple times, one is the most interesting : the most one with the highest price tag. (It’s a game for the rich, or would-be rich, after all). Whether it’s the well-known Mayfair in London, or the made-up Schlossallee in Germany, or the shopping centres or gardens or squares whose hotels command towering prices elsewhere. Sometimes it’s even a whole town! Get ready to discover the most exclusive, expensive streets in Europe: just hope you don’t land on any.
One of Lisbon’s main squares since the Middle Ages is Pedro IV Square, best known as Rossio. The most expensive square in Portuguese Monopoly has, over the ages, been the setting of popular revolts and celebrations, bullfights and executions, and is now a preferred meeting place of Lisbon natives and tourists alike. A bronze statue of the first Emperor of Brazil, Pedro I is to be seen at the top of a column in the middle of the square…
Paseo del Prado
The most expensive street on the board game of the Spanish Monopoly is a densely-tree-lined avenue connecting the so-called Golden Triangle of Art which includes the famous Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum. It is also close to the national congress and the language academy. No point looking for a flat to rent: round these historic parts of the capital, it is almost impossible.
Rue de la Paix
Fancy a trip to the bakery to buy your French baguette or a cheese shop to satisfy your sudden lust for camembert? Good luck trying around here: the fashionable shopping street Rue de la Paix in the Parisian city centre hosts little more than jewellers and couture houses – though there are plenty of them. So perhaps it comes as no surprise that this street is a bit more expensive than the Champs Elysées in Monopoly. The Rue de la Paix opened in 1806 on the orders of Napoleon I, as part of his programme to expand the heart of the Right Bank of Paris, both towards the undeveloped western suburbs and to the north.
We don’t buy it ! Iceland is home to wonderful landscapes, weird traditions and bizarre creatures… But what did they choose to be their most expensive place in Monopoly… yup, a shopping mall. Kringlan may be the largest shopping centre in Reykjavík with over 170 shops, restaurants and services: but hardly the typical fancy area where you might want to build a house or hotel. Built in 1987, it hosts a library, a theatre, a cinema, a liquor store, candy stores and a pub. It has grown over the years, and is thought by many to be the biggest threat to the high street shops of Reykjavík city centre…
This is a very expensive street – and not only on the Monopoly board! The Bóthar Shrewsbury (or Shrewsbury Road in English) was in 2007 ranked the sixth most expensive street in the world. Traditionally, Shrewsbury Road has been home to Dublin’s medical and legal professionals, but over the years the clientele shifted away and now the stretch tempts dot-com millionaires and property developers alike. Don’t expect to expand it much: with only 26 residences, houses here are as hard to build in real life as in the game.
Located within the City of Westminster towards the west of central London, the most famous street in British Monopoly boasts some of the capital’s most exclusive shops, hotels, restaurants and clubs. The area was first developed between the mid 17th century and the mid 18th century as a fashionable residential district by a number of landlords, most notably the Duke of Westminster. The Rothschild family bought up large areas of Mayfair in the 19th century while the freehold of a large section of the street also belongs to the Crown Estate.
Did you know that Monopoly is called Millionær in Norwegian? And its most expensive lot is Town Hall Square – a recreational area between Oslo City Hall and the Oslofjord. Construction of the town hall, given the street address Rådhusplassen 1, started in 1931. It was, between 1900 and 1950, decorated with great Norwegian art, with motifs from Norwegian history, culture and working life. But in real life there’s neither a house to buy nor a hotel to rent.
Ever heard of Stockholm syndrome – a condition in which hostages develop a psychological allegiance with their captors? Well, it was invented because of the Norrmalmstorg square, where in 1973 a bank robbery and hostage crisis occurred. It has been said that one or both robbers became engaged to their captives… in reality this never quite happened, and stems from a mistranslation of the sentence: “att engagera sig i någon”. That more correctly means being interested in someone, rather than promising any impending nuptials.
Nothing erotic about it. Erottaja means the “separator”, and this famous square in Helsinki operates as a meeting point of two central streets, Esplanadi and Mannerheimintie. Erottaja has been selected as the official geographic “zero point” of Helsinki. Distances to all other cities in Finland are measured from here.
Did you know that the Monopoly game was once named Matador in Danish? Sounds like you’re ready to kill your opponents the Spanish way if they dare buying a house on Radhuspladsen… The beautiful square was designed in the 1880s following an architecture competition which was won by the young and unknown Martin Nyrop. Due to its large size, its central location and its affiliation with the city hall, Radhuspladsen is also a popular venue for a variety of events, celebrations and demonstrations.
In the Netherlands, the most expensive lot on the Monopoly board is also one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world – namely Kalverstraat (representing the “calves’ market” that was held here until the 17th century). It is believed that an eucharistic miracle took place on this street in 1345 – a vomiting dying man had been put in fire to kill off the demons inside him, but miraculously stayed alive. However doubtful the veracity of this event, it is now commemorated every year with a Stille Omgang (weird) procession.
Let’s be honest: we don’t really understand why the Belgians picked Rue Neuve for their most expensive lot in the Monopoly. They have plenty of other gorgeous streets that would be a better match: maybe this surreal choice is just a typical Belgian joke… In real life Rue Neuve is a rather crowded and slightly shabby shopping street connecting the famous Place de la Monnaie to the Place Charles Rogier. This pedestrian street is also commands the second highest rents of any street in Belgium, with an average annual rent of 1,600 euros per square meter. This is the only valid reason we see why they picked Rue Neuve…
In Luxembourg, Monopoly players are serious about their most expensive lot: They wouldn’t pick a mere shopping centre, museum or town hall, but a street hosting bankers and capitalists. The central bank of Luxembourg is found here, along with many other parts of the tiny nation’s financial sector, of course! At least their choice respect the original mindset and culture of the game… In appearance, Boulevard Royal looks like a one-way arterial road that runs around the northern and western parts of the city centre, Ville Haute.
Look for the original version of the most expensive lot in the German edition of the Monopoly and you’ll look for a long time: it doesn’t exist! The original version launched in 1936 and featured street names such as Insel Schwanenwerder. That expensive Berlin district was the home to many Nazi officials – among them propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. In 1936, Goebbels officially banned the game for its alleged “Jewish-speculative nature“. In the 1953 West German version of Monopoly, the issues raised by the historical background of these streets and the reality of a country divided into two separate entities were avoided by giving fictitious or generic street names to Monopoly’s lots, such as Schloßallee (Castle Alley) or Goethestraße, after the famous German writer …
We all know that Austrians are different. That even applies to Monopoly: each set of colours contains streets from a single of the country’s state capitals . The dark blue colours are not Vienna, but Bregenz, and Rheinstraße becomes the most desirable property despite not being in the nation’s capital. The street itself, named after the river which flows through the city, is nevertheless not very impressive and looks like an ordinary road. This explains maybe why some alternative editions of the Austrian Monopoly use Kaiserstraβe as the most expensive lot…
Just like in Austria, the Swiss edition of Monopoly presents streets and squares from around the country. And just like in Luxembourg, the Zürich Paradeplatz is one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in Switzerland and is the centrepiece of Swiss wealth, financial services and banks – the street being home of both UBS’ and Credit Suisse’s headquarters. When playing Monopoly, you may want to build a bank rather than a hotel on this street…
Parco della Vittoria
Italy – despite its thousands of wonderful streets, gorgeous parks and lively squares – doesn’t have a proper name for its most expensive street in the national edition of their Monopoly. The Parco della Vittoria is actually a mere translation from the English name Boardwalk, which refers to a real street in… Atlantic City, New Jersey! Because Parco della Vittoria is a rather common name in the Italian peninsula (there are for instance several Monumento alla Vittoria), it does not refer to any existing park in particular. This should complicate your quest to build a house or hotel…
There is one important obstacle to the creation of national editions of Monopoly in smaller countries, in particular this one: Malta doesn’t have four train stations, or indeed any. So the island uses sea ports instead. For the most expensive street, they had what they needed: Mdina – a medieval walled town situated on a hill in the centre of the island. It is commonly called the “Silent City” by natives, is still confined within its legendary walls and has a population of just over three hundred. No need to highlight that it is expensive to invest in housing here…
Less a square than a boulevard, Václavské Námestí has the shape of a very long rectangle and is located in the centre of the business and cultural communities of Prague. Many historical events occurred there before and during the Soviet regime, and it is a traditional setting for demonstrations, celebrations, and other public gatherings. The square – classified as a World Heritage Site – is named after the patron saint of Bohemia, Saint Wenceslas.
The first Slovakian Monopoly game was issued in 2002 – eight years after Czechia. Its most expensive square, Hlavné Námestie, is surrounded by historical buildings and palaces: the old city hall, the Maximilian Fountain, the Roland Palace, the neo-Baroque Palugyay Palace, the Esterházy Palace and the Governor’s Palace. You will build your house or hotel next to the embassies of France, Greece and Japan. And your guest, after paying you the hefty rent, can savour lunch or coffee at the well-known Café Mayer.
Some streets stay the same for a long time – others have a long history of name changing. The Ujazdów Avenue is one of the latter. By 1766 it was already a part of the Royal Route as Belweder Avenue leading to Belweder Palace. During World War II it was supposed to be transformed into a German district, according to the Pabst Plan. Nazi authorities renamed it to Lindenallee and later to Siegenallee. After Stalin’s death it was renamed Stalin Avenue (Aleja Stalina). Three years later the traditional name was restored again…
Slight variation: in Lithuanian, the game is called Monopolis. On its board, the most expensive lot is Gedimino Prospektas – a long street which concentrates almost all the governmental institutions and cultural attractions. It is nowadays also a popular shopping and dining street, partially pedestrianised in the evenings when traffic is prohibited. In 2003 an important portion of the avenue was renovated and over 100 new trees were planted.
The Latvian Dome Square is the largest square in the Old Town of Riga. Various public events take place here, surrounded by several 19th and 20 century monuments: in particular the cathedral, one of the most prominent and recognisable buildings. During the Nazi occupation, the square was divided into two parts: the Domplatz and the Albert-von-Buxhoevden-Platz.
In the city centre of Tallinn, the Town Hall Square is a venue for festivals or concerts as well as housing several bars and restaurants. This square is also popular for being the traditional seat of the Estonian Christmas tree, which is often the biggest in Europe. The first tree was erected in 1441, long before other European cities. According to tradition, the Mayor lights the first candle, and citizens bring this light home to mark the beginning of Christmas season in December.
Майдан Незалежності (Maidan Nezalezhnosti)
In Ukraine the most expensive lot is one of the main city squares, translated in English as the Independence Square, located on the Khreschatyk Street. The square has been known under many different names, but it became known simply as the Maidan due to the political events that took place there in 2004 after the Ukrainian accession to independence. After the Orange Revolution, Maidan Nezalezhnosti continued to attract political protesters, but no event has ever approached the scale of the Orange protests.
While free parking, water companies or paying income tax may be alien to many locals, the value of property is certainly not. As such, Monopoly has been played in Romania for years: long before the fall of the communist regime in fact. In those days it would often be played using less-than-official versions of the game made in a dark factory somewhere far from the eyes of intellectual property lawyers. A legal, officially licensed Romanian version of the game – with the Bulevardul Primaverii –as its more valuable property has been around since 1999.
Hungarians have a long history of Monopoly – but not the way you would expect it. The first version of a similar game to Monopoly was called Capitaly and has been issued around 1935. Then came a communist version of the game under the name Gazdálkodj Okosan! in 1960 and another one called Takarékoskodj. The ultimate Monopoly game as we know it today was released in 1994 with the Danube Promenade as its most expensive street. The real street is located on the Pest side of Budapest and extends from the Széchenyi Chain Bridge to the Erzsébet Bridge.
During the second half of the nineties the publishers of the Monopoly game introduced with great energy the capitalist game in the former “eastern bloc” countries. Also in the states who formerly were part of Yugoslavia – and among them, Slovenia was the first to become independent. For its most expensive lot, they picked a town instead of a street. Portorož, which means “Port of Roses“, is located on the Slovenian coast and is one of the country’s largest tourist areas.
Without surprise, the evolution of the Monopoly game is interlinked with the European history. The original version of the Croatian Monopoly put Ženevski trg as the most expensive lot. The possessions were at that time partially invented street names, while the majority were real street names used in large Croatian cities. In the 1994 edition, it became Ilica – one of the oldest and longest streets in Zagreb also its most expensive residential area.
Улица краља Милана (Kralja Milana)
Serbia’s most expensive street is translated as King Milan Street in English. Its name changed many times over the years. It was formerly called Kragujevac Street and from 1876, Prince Milan Street. After World War II, it was renamed Street of Marshal Tito and, in 1990, the “street of the Serb leaders.” It has now taken back its original name. The street hosts many important buildings, such as the Stari Dvor and the Novi Dvor.
Цар Освободител (Tsar Osvoboditel)
Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard is a boulevard in the centre of Sofia and is the most expensive possession you can get in the Bulgarian Monopoly. It is named after Tsar Alexander II of Russia, referred to as the “Tsar Liberator” because of his role in the Liberation of Bulgaria. Most of the country’s institutions and representative buildings are located on Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard.
Λεωφόρος Αμαλίας (Leoforos Amalias)
Time for some classical style! Greece’s most expensive possession in Monopoly is a major avenue running southbound, and entirely one way, in Patras. It was paved in the late 19th century and featured classical street lights. Residential buildings with neo-classical and modern architectures cover the eastern part of the avenue, residential buildings covers the northern, central and southern parts, shops and stores covers the central portions.
Did you know that there are ferry boats on two of the four station spaces in the Turkish edition of Monopoly? Yeniköy – its most expensive street – is located on the European shores of the Bosphorus, between the neighbourhoods of İstinye and Tarabya. Yeniköy is a prestigious place of residence in Sarıyer district of Istanbul, and is home to the city’s wealthy figures. The place also has some of the finest seafood restaurants in Istanbul, on the Bosphorus shore.
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