Antananarivo is Madagascar’s capital built on a rocky ridge and its 12 surrounding sacred hills. It became the centre of the Merina kingdom in the 16th Century with the royal palace (rova) built on the highest point and remained the capital throughout French colonization to this day.
The name Antananarivo means ‘City of the Thousand’, after the number of soldiers protecting it during King Adrianjaja’s reign. Today it is commonly known by its shortened name ‘Tana’.
Tana is an attractive city, with its colourful houses and cobbled streets, surrounded by rice fields and the white concrete Merina tombs, from where the dead will be exhumed in the famous famadihana ceremony, dotted around the empty countryside. There is a lot of sightseeing interest in the town itself, as well as in the surrounding area. There are a number of cultural, historical and natural sites within a day’s excursion from Tana, so it is worth spending a couple of nights in the capital.