Day trip to two palaces - a tale of mountain-top kings and a murdering queen!

Today we offer you a day trip to two palaces. The Ambohimanga Rova is a half day-trip out of Antananarivo. It was the home of the first Malagasy king to unite the nation, King Andrianampoinimerina. It’s a fascinating story of murders and conquering and intrigue, the local guides are skilled at telling the story in many languages, and the scenery is very special. The palace was used as a holiday home by subsequent members of the royal family until the last queen was exiled by the French colonial power and some interesting artefacts remain. Return back to Tana for lunch overlooking the city, and after lunch visit to Palace number 2, the Rova Manjakamiadana… This palace was home to the royal family until exile. It was burned in a politically motivated arson attack in 1995 and is under renovation, nevertheless it is a fascinating story, in an amazing position, with incredible views around the city and rice fields as far as the eye can see.

per adult from




9 hours


Hotel pickup available


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  • What's included :
    • Lunch - Lunch at the Grill du Rova, close to the palace, overlooking Antananarivo.
    • All entries and obligatory local guide fees are included in your tour.
    • Bottled water - One 1.5 litre bottle of water is provided for each client
    • Entry/Admission - Ambohimanga
    What's excluded :
    • Gratuities
    • We do not include snacks or personal purchases
  • This is a typical itinerary for this product

    Stop At: Ambohimanga, 23 km North of Antananarivo, Antananarivo 101 Madagascar

    Ambohimanga is the fortified hill-top palace (rova) of King Andriampoinimerina, the first Malagasy king to unite the country, located approximately 24 kilometres northeast of the capital city of Antananarivo. The hill and the rova that stands on top are considered the most significant symbol of the cultural identity of the Merina people and the most important and best-preserved monument of the precolonial Merina Kingdom. The walled historic village includes residences and burial sites of several key monarchs. The site, one of the twelve sacred hills of Imerina, is associated with strong feelings of national identity and has maintained its spiritual and sacred character both in ritual practice and the popular imagination for at least four hundred years. It remains a place of worship to which pilgrims come from Madagascar and elsewhere. The significance of historical events here and the presence of royal tombs have given the hill a sacred character that is further enhanced at Ambohimanga by the burial sites of several Vazimba, the island's earliest inhabitants.

    The royal compound on the hilltop is surrounded by a complex system of defensive ditches and stone walls and is accessed by 14 gateways, of which many were sealed by stone disc barriers. The complex inside the wall is subdivided into three smaller rova. Mahandrihono, the largest compound, was established between 1710 and 1730 by King Andriambelomasina; it remains largely intact and contains the royal tombs, house of King Andrianampoinimerina, summer palace of Queen Ranavalona II, and sites that figured in key royal rituals such as the sacrificial zebu pen, royal bath and main courtyard. Original buildings no longer remain in the compound of Bevato, established before 1710 by Andriamborona, and the Nanjakana compound, built for King Andrianjafy in the late 19th century. The hill and its royal fortified city were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2001 and represent Madagascar's only cultural site following the destruction by fire in 1995 of its historic sister city, the Rova of Antananarivo, shortly before the latter's intended inscription to the list.

    You will hear fascinating stories about the King and his foibles (having the swimming pool emptied and refilled every day by 60 virgins) and calling by conch shell to his astrologer who lived on a nearby hill, when he wanted to know what was about to happen. Andriampoinimerina would hide in the rafters of the house when visitors came, letting his wife receive them, until he was sure if they were friend or foe.

    Duration: 2 hours

    Stop At: Manjakamiadana, Antananarivo, Madagascar

    The Rova of Antananarivo (Manjakamiadana) is a royal palace complex (rova) in Madagascar that served as the home of the sovereigns of the Kingdom of Imerina in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as of the rulers of the Kingdom of Madagascar in the 19th century. Located in the central highland city of Antananarivo, the Rova occupies the highest point on Analamanga, formerly the highest of Antananarivo's many hills. Merina king Andrianjaka, who ruled Imerina from around 1610 until 1630, is believed to have captured Analamanga from a Vazimba king around 1610 or 1625 and erected the site's first fortified royal structure. Successive Merina kings continued to rule from the site until the fall of the monarchy in 1896, frequently restoring, modifying or adding royal structures within the compound to suit their needs. The largest and most prominent of these was Manjakamiadana, also known as the "Queen's Palace" after Queen Ranavalona I, for whom the original wooden palace was built between 1839–1841 by Frenchman Jean Laborde. In 1867 the palace was encased in stone for Queen Ranavalona II by Scotsman James Cameron, an artisan missionary of the London Missionary Society. The neighbouring Tranovola, a smaller wooden palace constructed in 1819 by Creole trader Louis Gros for King Radama I, was the first multi-story building with verandas in the Rova. The model offered by Tranovola transformed architecture throughout the highlands over the course of the 19th century, inspiring a widespread shift toward two-storey houses with verandas. The Rova grounds also contained a cross-shaped wooden house (Manampisoa) built as the private residence of Queen Rasoherina, a stone Protestant chapel (Fiangonana), nine royal tombs, and a number of named wooden houses built in the traditional style reserved for the andriana (nobles) in Imerina.

    A fire on the night of 6 November 1995 destroyed or damaged all the structures within the Rova complex shortly before it was due to be inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Although officially declared an accident, rumours persist that politically motivated arson may have been the actual cause of the fire. The chapel and tombs, as well as Besakana and Mahitsielafanjaka, have since been fully restored with bilateral government donations, state funds and grants from intergovernmental and private donors. The interior of the Rova remains unfinished.

    Here you will hear intriguing tales of Merina history, including that of the cruel queen, Ranavalona I, who threw christians from the cliff-top rolled in carpets, and is contemporarily known as "the female Caligula!!".

    Duration: 1 hour

  • Departure Point :
    Traveler pickup is offered
    You need to inform us of your hotel address for pickup please. One party, one pickup address.
    Departure Time :
    8:00 AM
    Return Detail :
    Hotel Pickup :
    • Confirmation will be received at time of booking, unless booked within 23 hours of travel. In this case confirmation will be received as soon as possible, subject to availability
    • Not wheelchair accessible
    • Most travelers can participate
    • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund
    • This experience requires a minimum number of travelers. If it’s canceled because the minimum isn’t met, you’ll be offered a different date/experience or a full refund
    • This is a private tour/activity. Only your group will participate
  • You can present either a paper or an electronic voucher for this activity.
  • All sales are final and incur 100% cancellation penalties.



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Organised by Dadamanga Travel Service

Activity ID: V-206144P2

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