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Unveiling the Majesty of Rova: Madagascar Island's Historic Gem

Unveiling the Majesty of Rova: Madagascar Island’s Historic Gem

The construction of the Rova d’Antananarivo began in 1610 when Andrianjaka built his palace on the “blue hill” and surrounded it with a fence. Throughout the 19th century, French and British architects contributed to expanding and enhancing the royal compound. Tragically, a fire in 1995 destroyed this historic site, including pavilions and grand palaces that held great significance in Malagasy history.

Restoring these significant buildings, representing both political and religious symbols of the former monarchy, is a top priority for Madagascar’s delegation to UNESCO. The Rova d’Antananarivo stands as an important part of Malagasy history and culture, making its restoration essential for preserving this rich heritage.

Le Rova et le Cosmos

The Royal Rova during Andrianampoinimerina’s reign housed twenty-two wooden structures, symbolizing a defensive and honorable system in the Imerina region. Positioned on the highest hill in the capital, it represented an ideal order of the world. Royal astrologers played a crucial role in determining the location, orientation, and auspicious day for constructing each new building. The construction was carried out by Merina workers and peasants as part of their duties.

Voromahery, «the Royal Sparrowhawk»

The main gate of the Rova was designed in 1865 by James Cameron, a British architect. The triumphal arch is crowned with a bronze eagle sent by Napoleon III to Ranavalona I.

Originally, the imperial emblem sent by Napoleon III was supposed to be a royal hawk (Voromahery), symbolizing the power of the Malagasy monarchy.


The grand city hosted official receptions. Ranavalona I summoned foreign residents to announce her decisions.

“The city sat on a high hill of rocks, stretching two and a half kilometers. The massive grand palace stood at the center, with its arcaded verandas and expansive white roof shining in the morning sun.

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