The Lemur Refuge
25 km from Tana, there is a private lemur reserve, with up to nine different species. The animals roam freely, except for two nocturnal species. Lemurs’ Park, measuring 5 ha, is next to the Katsaoka river. Its entire infrastructure was created by artist Philippe Manet, so it would integrate perfectly into the environment.
From the 12 sacred hills, you can see Analakely Valley, which was home to the poorest classes and where, in 1794, King Andrianampoinimerina set up the biggest open-air market in the world. Its dismantling was ordered in 1997, but, since then, stores have repopulated the streets like a savage river returning to its course: aromatic fruit, crafts and every pirated object you can imagine.
The city’s highest hill is home to the Rova, a legendary palace, which sits on the skyline and symbolises domination of the island by the Merina monarchs. It was there, in the 17th
century, that they established their capital, with a group of 1,000 soldiers, who defended the site from sieges by other towns. Antananarivo means ‘the city of the thousand’. They eventually built 20 structures, and the best known of them is the Manjakamiadana or the Queen’s Palace. The royal citadel, built by Queen Ranavalona I, and home to most of the wealth and archives of the civilisation, was destroyed by fire in 1995.