Royal Hill of Ambohimanga (2001)

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The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga consists of a royal city and burial site, and an ensemble of sacred places. It is associated with strong feelings of national identity, and has maintained its spiritual and sacred character both in ritual practice and the popular imagination for the past 500 years. It remains a place of worship to which pilgrims come from Madagascar and elsewhere.  

Ambohimanga has its roots in the 16th century, according to historians, or in the 14th century, according to oral traditions. 

  • Madagascar 2004. Traditional dance at the entrance of Ambohimanga. From a series of six stamps describing scenic views of Madagascar. 

Madagascar 2004. Traditional dance at the entrance of Ambohimanga.

Madagascar 2004. King.Andrianampoinimerina (1787-1810).

It was one of many rivalling chieftaincies in the central plateau of the island, which during the 17th century slowly gained in local importance and power. In the late 18th century, the Ambohimanga-based chieftaincy conquered its neighbours and established the Imerina Empire, which grew to the leading power on Madagascar under the reign of Andrianimpoinimerina (born at Ambohimanga, ca. 1745, dead 1810). 

Under the rule of Andrianimpoinimerina, the capital was moved to Antananarivo, but Ambohimanga remained an important ritual site. Until the French occupation in 1895, Imerina was to conquer most parts of the island. 

  • Madagascar 2004. King.Andrianampoinimerina (1787-1810). From a series of seven stamps related to Malagasy royalty. 

The Imerina royal house introduced a unique modernisation process in Madagascar in the late 19th century, even intending on industrialisation. 

With the baptism of Queen Ranavalona II in 1869, Christianity was made state religion. Obligatory school attendance was introduced in 1880, earlier than in most European countries. The last royal Malagasy Head of State was Queen Ranavalona III (see stamp below right), exiled by the French in 1897.  

Madagascar 2004. Queen Ranavalona I. Madagascar 2004. Queen Ranavalona II. Madagascar 2004. Queen Ranavalona III.

The Malagasy people, however, still take pride in their ancient royal history and institutions, and  Ambohimanga, along with the Royal Palace in Antananarivo, remain the most important symbols of this proud past. 

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage sites on Madagascar (on this web site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Madagascar Section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 20 jul 2006  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
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