Mahandrihono Palace – The house of the King of Imerina in Ambohimanga

A cultural hero and holds near mythic status among the Merina people, and is considered one of the greatest military and political leaders in the history of Madagascar.

Andrianampoinimerina ruled the Kingdom of Imerina from 1787 until his death. His reign was marked by the reunification of Imerina following 77 years of civil war, and the subsequent expansion of his kingdom into neighboring territories, thereby initiating the unification of Madagascar under Merina rule.

The Merina Kingdom or Kingdom of Madagascar, officially the Kingdom of Imerina, was a pre-colonial state off the coast of Southeast Africa that, by the 19th century, dominated most of what is now Madagascar. The Merina kings and queens who ruled over greater Madagascar in the 19th century were the descendants of a long line of hereditary Merina royalty originating with Andriamanelo (king of Alasora in the central highlands region of Madagascar), who is traditionally credited with founding Imerina in 1540.

The site is highly sacred. Visitors are asked to enter the house by stepping in with their right foot and exiting backwards, according to custom, in order to show respect for the spirit of Andrianampoinimerina / Image source

Among the buildings extant at the royal city during the time of King Andrianampoinimerina, only the original Mahandrihono palace remains intact. The palace, served as the home of Andrianampoinimerina before he relocated the political capital of Imerina to Antananarivo.

The Mahandrihono palace has been preserved in its original state since construction, excepting the replacement of the original roof thatch with wooden shingles. The simple wooden structure is constructed in the traditional style of the aristocracy of Imerina. The walls of palace are made of solid rosewood and topped by a peaked roof that is supported by 10-meter central rosewood pillar.

Silver ornaments were also hung from the corners of the roof in the interior of the house. The building’s name is inscribed on a white marble plaque affixed to an exterior wall near one of the building’s two entrances. This house contains a number of items that belonged to Andrianampoinimerina, including weapons, drums, talismans and a bed raised on stilts.

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