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Unveiling the Charm of Les Pavillons du Rova Antananarivo

Unveiling the Charm of The Pavillons du Rova Antananarivo – Madagascar Island

Manjakamiadana, « Where it’s easy to reign »

The Rova Palace, originally a small wooden pavilion built during the reign of Andrianampoinimerina, was gradually replaced by a grander structure at the request of Ranavalona I in 1839. The new palace, named Manjakamidadana, was constructed mainly from wood and featured six stacked rooms. It had towering columns supporting the galleries on the first two floors, lightening the building’s overall look. Painted mostly white with red and black balustrades, it stood as an impressive royal residence.

In 1869–1872, upon Ranavalona II’s request, James Cameron enhanced the palace with an Italian-style stone framework comprising a gallery and four corner towers. Despite solid buildings being reserved for the deceased at that time, Queen Ranavalona II sought ancestral blessings through astrologers and priests to uphold this construction norm.

During the Republican era, significant collections of paintings were housed in both large ground-floor and second-floor rooms. The first floor held a throne adorned with gilded wood under crystal chandeliers from the former throne room. This space also showcased royal ceremonial attire, jewelry, palanquins (litters), precious tapestries, and other remnants of past magnificence.

Besakana, « Who keeps well»

This pavilion was built around 1800 at the request of King Andrianampoinimerina, following the same principles as Mahitsielafanjaka. It stood near Andrianjaka’s Besakana, a symbol of the emerging royalty.

The Royal Temple

The queen and prime minister commissioned the building of a palace in 1869, completed by 1880. The people contributed materials and labor, following the “service du roi” tradition. The construction lasted eight years, showing their dedication to the project.

Mahitsielafanjaka, «An upright spirit reigns long»

The royal pavilion of Ambohimanga, built around 1796, was inspired by the Mahandrihono. It was a one-room structure made of rosewood walls and a thatched roof towering 18 meters high. This building influenced Imerina’s architectural style for three centuries.

Inside, it held the elevated bed of King Andrianampoinimerina, where he spent time with his twelve wives. The pavilion also contained a hearth, kitchen utensils, some weapons, seats, and a table.

Tranovola « The Silver House»

Louis Gros constructed the first royal multi-story building in 1820 for King Radama I. It had glass windows, verandas, and a shingle-covered roof with silver bells that gave it its name. The palace was guarded by a bronze eagle imported from France.

Afterward, Queen Ranavalona I had the palace demolished and replaced with a larger one for future King Radama II in 1845. The new building also had a grand reception hall decorated with scenes of court life, and the Tranovola served as a museum displaying portraits, seals of Malagasy kings, and gifts from European rulers.

Manampisoa, « Extra Beauty »

Rasoherina had an elegant palace built by William Pool from 1865 to 1867, with plans designed by James Cameron. The wooden building was painted in black and red, featuring graceful balconies and flat fluted columns with Ionic capitals. It measured 20m long, 10m wide, and 17m high.

In the 20th century, Manampisoa was transformed into a museum showcasing royal family artifacts such as ceremonial costumes, weapons, jewelry, ornaments, musical instruments, silverware, and furniture. The intricate interior details included ebony and rosewood parquet floors, ceilings, wainscoting panels,and balusters.

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