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Unveiling the Sacred Hills of Northern Madagascar

Unveiling the Sacred Hills of Northern Madagascar: Exploring Indigenous Traditions and Cultural Significance

ILAFY (Take the RN3 north out of Antananarivo)

The ancient vacation home of the Merina kings is located 10 km north of the capital, at an altitude of 1,350 m. It’s a wooden two-story royal house that belonged to Radama II and now holds a variety of old items and a collection of ethnographic photographs. This place is rich in historical and cultural significance.


The “meeting place” is known for its beautiful 17th-century earth enclosure and houses the tomb of Prince Andriambolanambo. The hill is located 2 km east of Sabotsy-Namehana (PK11 of RN3), a village that hosts a lively market every Saturday. In Ambatofotsy, which is 3 km northeast of Sabotsy-Namehana, lies the resting place of the poet Rabearivelo, protected by a beautiful earth wall.


This village was once the capital and final resting place of King Ralambo.

AMBOHIMANGA (21 km north of Antananarivo, on the RN 51)

– This sacred hill was the capital of Andrianampoinimerina
– It’s where the king launched campaigns to reunite Imerina.

IMERIMANDROSO (On the RN52 from Ivato airport, 11km west of Ambohimanga)

Andrianampoinimerina established “Imerina on the rise” to strengthen the defenses of Ambohimanga. In the southern part of the village, between the partially filled ditches, remain two stones erected by this king. One symbolizes the existing kingdom while the other represents the West to be conquered.

Visitors can also explore Alakamisy market (1 km west) and Ambatoharanana village to the east. The Anglican seminary built in the 1870s in Ambatoharanana features a surprising small church and an impressive granite library.

AMBOHIDRATRIMO (17 km north-west of Antananarivo, PK13 on the RN 4)

The hillside town is crowned by the ancient capital of Marovatana. Although the royal residences and the tomb of the kingdom’s founder are gone, the Rova still houses three royal tombs topped with wooden houselets on a stone base. At an altitude of 1400 m, it offers views of the western part of the plain, as well as the Ikopa and Sisaony valleys up to Ankaratra. Nearby, women in need of children or wanting to verify their baby’s gender leave offerings at a stone engraved with a pair of breasts.

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