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The Gap Year Blog

Capturing Capital Cities: Antananarivo, Madagascar

3 Dec 2018 12:00 PM

Photo Credit: Flickr | David Sasaki

Edited with Permission by Frontier

Known by the locals as ‘Tana’, Madagascar’s capital is the biggest city of the entire country. Known for its sticky traffic and polluted streets, not many people head to this urban metropolis, and head to the remote rainforests with their biodiversity.  But today, we’re going to paint the town red, and find out why Antananarivo is the place to stay. 

Many people use this capital city to stay when they’re moving from place to place rather than taking a whole holiday to fetch out the city’s secrets. But in this area of Madagascar holds thirty years of history and the cobbled streets are ones to wander to admire the colonial architecture. Holding a past of many tribal wars and a continuous tension of groups, the city fought for its name and became the Kingdom of Madagascar in 1810. Today, there are still political tensions, but Antananarivo presides as the centre for international growth where organizations come together for business.

Perhaps one of the most poignant landmarks of the city is Antananarivo’s palace, the Rova known as Manjakamiadana (translated to A Fine Place to Rule), the previous royal home which sits atop the highest hill. The monument can be visited currently in its restoration process, after being burnt down twenty years ago. It is the capitals most popular monument, and the cultural sight to see. 

Photo Credit: Flickr | Cedric Lienart

Other sights you might want to put in your agenda include another palace of Andadfiavarata or the Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie. Both are historical museums, the former being the previous home of Prime Minister Rainilairaivony and is commonly found not open, but a great place for pictures, the latter a small museum of the archaeology and Madagascan life through art. The communities surrounding this history are a great way to understand the true realities of the country, and you can experience this up close with a Madagascar Community Adventure project

Just a little while away from the city lays the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Ambohimanga – the original capital given its UNESCO name from the cultural significance and history to the people. A remote place to explore, the site’s structure and atmosphere is not as spectacular as some of the architecture in the city but does brand the historical side to the Malagasy people.

Photo Credit: Frontier Madagascar

It’s no secret that the biodiversity of Madagascar is one of the most diverse in the world and many people love to head to conservation projects, just like our Madagascar Wildlife Conservation in Nosy Be. In the capital though, lemur and crocodile farms are just within a short distance of the city. Imerintsiatoskia’s Lemur Park is used to sustain and conserve Madagascar’s vast species of the lemur amongst a botanical landscape or the Ivato crocodile breeding farm (known as “Croc Farm”) is a safe place for families to visit whilst gawking at the Nile crocodiles. Just 15 minutes from the city centre you can find the Tsimbazaza Park with more animal species filed with a zoo of birds, snakes and – you guessed it – more lemurs. 

So, with all these things considered, why not choose the Madagascar capital as a stop off, instead of heading straight to the rainforests? Or even get your hands on one of our many Madagascar projects to experience the country in full. 

By Caitlin Casey - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs terrestrial & marine conservation, community, teaching and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!