Madagascar Capital City, About Antananarivo Tourism and Travel

(Madagascar, MG, Africa)

Photo of Lac Anosy, AntananarivoAntananarivo, often familiarly referred to by locals and expatriates as Tana, is an attractive city with a distinctly French feel. It is also something of an enigma. This lively city is favoured more and more by the young and, yet, in many ways it harps back to its colonial past.

This is most obviously shown in the city's mixture of architecture, which reflects both modern and traditional ways of life. Of interest, the city of Antananarivo is surrounded by 12 sacred hills.

Antananarivo cityscape view

Tourism and General Information

It is said that the city takes its name from the thousand warriors that were sent to guard it during the time of King Andrianjaka in the 17th century. The king had a castle built on the site that is now known as the 'Rova' or Queen's Palace. In the 18th century, the city was made the capital of most of the island of Madagascar.

At the end of the 19th century, Antananarivo was captured by the French. It was during this time that the city gained its distinctive architecture and a good deal of its infrastructure. Following Madagascar's independence in 1960, Antananarivo's development has continued apace.

Further picture of the Antananarivo cityscapeToday, Antananarivo is home to around two million people. The heart of the city is built over three quite distinct levels. Perched on a hill and dominating the city is the Queen's Palace.

At the city's lowest level is the neighbourhood which centres on the Avenue of Independence and includes many of Antananarivo's restaurants, shops and hotels. In between, the upper town has a less commercial atmosphere and contains the districts of Isoraka and Antaninarenina. The outer suburbs of Antananarivo include Antsahavola, Tsaralalana and Analakely to the north and west of the city, while in the eastern part of the city is Andohalo.

Image of houses and traffic in AntananarivoAntananarivo has plenty to keep visitors entertained, whether you've got a few hours to spare before your flight or have set aside a couple of days to properly explore the city.

The Queen's Palace and the Prime Minister's Palace are the most popular of the city's visitor attractions. Animal and plant lovers will likely want to check out the Tsimbazaza Zoo and Botanical Garden. Antananarivo's many markets also provide an opportunity to experience life in this African city at first hand.