Learn About Madagascar's History at Antananarivo's Rova Palace Complex

January 27, 2012
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While a Madagascar tour is a great nature travel experience, there are other things to see and do there as well, and checking out some of the man-made sites can mix things up on a trip to the African island. In the heart of the oldest part of Madagascar's capital city, Antananarivo, there is a royal palace complex, called Rova. There, you can see the ruins of the Queen's Palace, the Palace of Andafiavaratra and the Rova Palace of Justice, as well as the Royal village's cathedrals and residences.

The Queen's Palace, built in the mid-1800s, was originally made of wood, but Queen Ranavalona II had the entire palace encased in stone in 1867 by French architect James Cameron. However, the building, which is also called the Manjakamiadana, was almost entirely consumed by a fire in 1995. All that remains in one wall, but a project began in 2006 to restore the building to its former glory - this time out of cement instead of wood. By 2008, the remaining wall had been restored and much of the interior had been rebuilt, and the site was reopened to the public briefly in 2010, but closed once again to complete the project.

Visitors may not be able to go inside the Manjakamiadana, but they can still see the palace from outside, and there are plenty of other historical sites that travelers can check out in the Rova complex. The Andafiavaratra Palace doubles as a museum where many artifacts rescued from the Queen's Palace are on display. This national monument was once home to Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony, the man under whom Madagascar was united in the late 19th century.

Surrounding the Andafiavaratra Palace is the Andohalo borough, filled with traditional colonial homes and cathedrals. Strolling down the cobblestone streets, it's easy to imagine life in Madagascar for early British settlers.

When you visit Madagascar, a tour of Antananarivo's old city and Rova palace complex is a great way to learn about the history of the African island and get a first-hand account of its colonization. The Manjakamiadana palace ruins are a sight to behold, and visitors can see its artifacts displayed in the nearby Andafiavaratra palace museum. Visiting the Rova is a great way for nature travel enthusiasts to add a different flavor to their vacations.

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