ANTANANARIVO

Madagascar’s vibrant capital – Antananarivo –  perches on a hillside like a city lost in time.  Its charm lies in its contrasting moods, best experienced by exploring the rambling streets and alleyways.  Antananarivo’s preserved architecture is an amazingly diverse mix influenced by tradition, missionary fervour and a brief colonial past.

 Situated in the central highland region, the capital (generally known as Tana) was founded in 1610 and is the largest city in Madagascar with more than two million inhabitants.  As Tana is the hub for international and domestic flights, most visitors will pass through here at some point.  

 Sites of interest include the shell of the old King’s palace (Rova), nearby Ambohimanga Royal Palace (a World Heritage Site), Tsarasaotra Lake (exceptional for birds), the Presidential palace and the main market or zoma.  A walk to the Lost Palace and Royal Rova along the maze of alleyways linking the lower and upper city is worth the effort as these were once a symbol of hope and unity, a reminder to the Malagasy people of their proud heritage.  The city views from the Rova and Lost Palace are spectacular as you take in the red brick topsy-turvy houses scattered along the hills, the beauty of the lake and beyond to the rice paddies.  Major reconstruction is ongoing to restore the Lost Palace and Rova to their former glory, making these ancient buildings one of the most interesting sites to visit in Antananarivo.

CONTACT US to find out more about our 1000 views of Madagascar tour which explores this vibrant city.

 

ANTANANARIVO’S MARKET PLACES OR ‘ZOMAS’

 

There are several markets – zomas – in Tana, including the Flower Market at the north western edge of Lake Anosy.  The best time to visit is early on Sunday morning.  The Handicraft Markets (which are closed on Sundays) offer artisan items including wood carving, minerals, leatherwork, embroidery and hand-made baskets. The Food Market next to the railway station has hundreds of tiny stalls displaying a whole host of local and foreign fruits and vegetables. Please be aware that pick-pockets operate in the markets!

 

THE MALAGASY CULTURE

Madagascar’s population is estimated at 20 million inhabitants (2009). Famous for their hospitality and friendliness, Malagasy people put a high value on the land and the traditions handed down by their ancestors. There are 18 main tribes speaking different dialects which have the official Malagasy language (Merina Language) as their root. Their culture is primarily based on having a great respect for the elders, the ancestors, the family and religion