Website Category: Madagascar and Mauritius
Area: 0.6 km2
Criteria: (iii) cultural tradition (iv) icon of an era (vi) association with belief system
Location and Values: The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga, in the Madagascar highlands about 20km north of Antananarivo, is closely associated with the Merina people, who trace their origins back to a phase of immigration from Indonesia perhaps 500-600 years ago. Their appearance, culture and livelihood pattern, including the terraced rice-paddies that provide their staple food, show strong affinities with traditional life in Indonesia. The royal city and burial site bears testimony to the social and political system which has existed in the Malagasy highlands since the 16th century.
The fortified Royal Enclosure is positioned on the top of a rounded hill overlooking the rice paddies, and surrounded by ‘sacred’ forest. The enclosure has seven entrances, and a huge circular stone used to be rolled across each entrance at night. One of these can still be seen. Inside the compound the centrepiece is a large double-storey wooden building with elaborately decorated balconies that was the home of the great king Andrianampoinimerina, who reined from 1787 to 1810. A central courtyard is shaded by two giant fig trees and nearby a sacrificial stone is still used as a place for rituals.
Slideshow of the Royal Hill Of Ambohimanga: The slideshow features a collection of photos provided by Lyn Mair, showing the main features of the site, including the wooden palaces and summer houses, the shaded courtyard and one of the seven historic entrances with its giant circular stone.
Slideshow of the Royal Hill Of Ambohimanga:
Google Earth View: To view satellite imagery of this area on Google Earth, click here. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing other world heritage sites. Unfortunately, the site of the Royal Hill seems to be obscured in cloud, so not much can be seen until new satellite imagery is available. Nevertheless the Google Earth view gives a very good sense of the general area with its rounded hills, separated from one another by the wide rice-filled valleys of the highlands.