Antananarivo (known locally as Tana), is situated in the central part of the island of Madagascar. The city is dramatically set around three hills with a ridge that rises to above 1400m, bisecting the city. It was founded as a fortress in the early 17th century by the Merina rulers.
The Queen’s Palace that overlooked the Antananarivo from the top of the ridge was a spectacular monument until it was recently destroyed by fire. The ruined palace is well worth a visit, along with the central market and Botanical Gardens.
The central highlands form the backbone of Madagascar and stretch from the densely forested area north of Antananarivo all the way to the bone-dry south of the country. The Route du Sud (N7) covers most of this area, making for relatively good driving conditions. The winding road takes you past pretty mountain villages, Madagascar’s largest zebu market and several national parks.