Ambohimanga

Ambohimanga is a hill and traditional fortified royal settlement in Madagascar. The walled historic village includes residences and burial sites of several key monarchs. The hill and its royal fortified city were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2001.

About Ambohimanga in brief

Summary AmbohimangaAmbohimanga is a hill and traditional fortified royal settlement in Madagascar. 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 for at least four hundred years. 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 world list. The name Ambohi is a noun-adjective compound in the standard Malagasy language composed of two parts: ambohi, meaning “sacred” or “beautiful,” and manga, which can mean “blue” or”good” or both. The earliest known name for the hill was Tsimilo. It was later renamed Ambohitrakanga around 1700 by a dethroned prince named Andriamasinavalona who, according to oral history, was the first to settle on the hilltop with his family in the early 18th century. By the 15th century, the Vazimba ethnic group from southeastern Madagascar’s highlands had gradually migrated into the central highlands, where they established settlements among the existing settlements around Ambohangas. The current name of the hill comes from King Andriamborona, who,  in the early 20th Century, established the current name from his family’s name, “Andriama” The hill is 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.

It remains a place of worship to which pilgrims come from Madagascar and elsewhere. It is located approximately 24 kilometers northeast of the capital city of Antanarivo and is surrounded by a complex system of defensive ditches and stone walls. The gateways and construction of buildings within the compound are arranged according to two overlaid cosmological systems that value the four cardinal points radiating from a unifying center, and attach sacred importance to the northeastern direction. 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 Andri amborona and the Nanjakana compound, built for King andrianjafy in the late 19th Century.