Antananarivo Sights and Landmarks Guide, Madagascar
Situated, as it is, in the center of Madagascar, Antananarivo is a good stop-off point for sightseeing throughout the rest of the island. Indeed, it is the country’s capital and hosts one of its main airports, therefore is home to a bustling tourist industry. There is no shortage of things to see and do in Tana, as it is known to both locals and tourists alike.
Seeing the Sights
If sightseeing is your bag then you will not be disappointed if you take a taxi to Rova, where you can enjoy the panoramic view of the city, and the ancient ruins of the Royal Palace. If you want to know more about the city than the guidebook can offer then you can avail yourself of the services of the many locals who will offer their guidance and knowledge of local history and places of interest. Of course payment is expected but it is often worthwhile parting with a few coins in return for the wealth of information local people can offer.
Wildlife and Nature
Antananarivo offers a wealth of opportunities for the wildlife enthusiast, especially the chance to see, in their own environment, chameleons and the world-famous Madagascar Lemurs. These small primates, which are one of Madagascar’s main attractions, would actually be extinct today were it not for the island’s isolation from the rest of the world.
The city’s hilly terrain can be difficult to negotiate for the less than super-fit, but this does not mean missing seeing the island’s indigenous animals. The zoo in Tsimbazaza is set in beautiful gardens and is home to these and many other animals and is well worth a visit. The reptile house is home to chameleons, snakes, and other reptiles, and there is also a small natural history museum that is a wealth of information on fossils, butterflies, and other types of wildlife.
Arts and Culture
Culture enthusiasts are also well catered for in Antananarivo with a choice of two museums to choose from. The Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie gives an outline of the archaeological digs that have taken place on the island. It also displays grave decorations, musical instruments, and talismans to ward of spells and curses. The Musée Andafivaratra is a pink baroque-style palace and houses a large collection of furniture and portraits from the age of Merina royalty. The building was previously the home of Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony, who married three queens in succession and is reputed to have been the power behind the throne.
A trip to Antananarivo is not complete without a visit to the markets. Unfortunately, the famous Zoma market is no longer in existence, but there is still no shortage of shopping opportunities. Busy markets operate at both the top and bottom of the Avenue of Independence and they sell everything from haute couture to cheap souvenirs. Fresh produce and seafood are also plentiful and inexpensive. However, as in any market in any main city, be careful of your belongings. Unfortunately, the crowds and bustle are a pickpocket’s paradise.
Capital of Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, Antananarivo is a wonderful blend of ancient and modern. Whether you love to shop, are a cultural enthusiast, or a lover of wildlife this city is a place worth visiting.
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