Madagascar has much of the bright and quirky architecture you’d expect of a small, water-locked country. Though for a small country, it has a rich and sometimes turbulent history, which has affected popular styles in buildings.
This is the presidential palace in Antananarivo. The president of Madagascar no longer actually lives here; it is purely symbolic. During a 2009 coup, the military invaded the palace and have threatened to do so again since then.
Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony built this as his home while governing Madagascar. At the time, British missionaries dominated the area, which could be why the palace looks a bit like it belongs in the British countryside.
Ambohimanga is a hill and fortified royal settlement about 15 miles northeast of the capital city of Antananarivo that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The structure is one of the last real representations of architecture from Melina, a highlander ethnic group in Madagascar. It is one of the best-preserved structures from the pre-colonial Kingdom of Madagascar.
This palace is also at Ambohimanga. King Andriamasinavalona built it for his children. He built stone walls around the structure and within it, small houses for his children with names like “knows how to wait” to impress upon them that they shouldn’t try to usurp him.
Trano means a box or frame, and Gasy is short for Malagasy. These houses look like little stacked boxes and you’ll find them in rural areas of Madagascar. They date back to the late 1800s when Queen Ranavalona II commissioned the construction of private homes for missionaries. The style remained popular after the missionaries were gone.
L’ Avenue de I’independence in the center of Antananarivo runs between produce and meat markets and it’s considered charming to drive down. On either side of the avenue are colonial style buildings with arched facades and bright colors.
Many compare Andohalo to Notre Dame, and for that reason, it’s very popular with tourists. The cathedral sits on a hill and commemorates the Malagasy Christian martyrs burned on that hill by Queen Ranavalona I.
Hotel de Ville was built in 2009 and on the site of a town hall that was burned down during protests in 1972. It still has the very stoic façade of the town hall.
These staircases run through the center of town between cheery apartments to a popular marketplace. The staircases are always full of people and action.
Located at end of L’Avenue de I’lndependance, the Soarano train station is the principal railway station in the capital city. Today very few trains pass through the station and it’s used mostly for commercial purposes.