Fianarantsoa means “Good education” in Malagasy. It was built in the early 19th century by the Merina as the administrative capital for the newly conquered Betsileo kingdoms. The Fianarantsoa Old City occupies a dramatic hilltop with a palace used by the Merina royal Governor, that is no longer there. The colonial city, located on the neighbouring hill of Tsianolondroa, housed almost the city’s major infrastructures: streets and main avenues, hospital, administrative buildings, etc., built between 1896 and 1960. The Old City is the only place in Madagascar where nineteenth-century buildings form a coherent architectural ensemble. Although the conditions of some edifices appear dire, in recent years private and public institutions have showed interest in protecting the old city’s architectural heritage by projects requiring renovation to be consistent with traditional methods.
keywords: Fianarantsoa; Royal city; Colonial city; Cultural and architectural heritage; Conservation