Antananarivo, the ancient Analamanga, is located in the center of all the Sacred Hills of the Imerina where, for the most part, Andrianampoinimerina installs one of his wives. Indeed, the latter is particularly interested in several hills,
Strategic points from which the eye is far away, hence the arrival of enemies
seen. With Ambohimalaza, they form a chain around Antananarivo that is cut out on the horizon.
According to Urbain-Faurec and Lavau, their number is pushed (or limited) to twelve, for this number, in the ancient Judaic and Oriental civilizations, corresponds to completeness, completion and integrity. In fact, “there are not only twelve royal mountains in Imerina as Andrianampoinimerina does not have that twelve women and as he does not worship only twelve idols.”
This is why historians are not unanimous as to their enumeration. Some cite quite readily Ambohidrapeto, Fenoarivo, Amboatany, Imerimandroso, Iharanandriana, Ambohibeloma. In any case, they always enumerate Analamanga, Ambohimanga, Alasora, Antsahadinta and often Ambohidratrimo and Ilafy.
In addition, it is difficult to establish a link between the “Twelve Sacred Hills” and the “Twelve Royal Wives”. This is the case of Fenoarivo which is not a hill. Yet it is a royal city where the sovereign places two of his wives.
For a long time, these hills display an almost supernatural prestige when they shelter royal tombs which have a profound meaning. For the Malagasy, death is only an eternal sleep and the Ancestors are the link between the Creator and Zanahary.
Among the “official enumerations,” there is this one. To the north, the nearest mountain of Antananarivo is located in Ilafy, capital of the maternal uncle of Andrianampoinimerina. On his arrival, Jean Laborde forged his first rifle, in association with another Frenchman, a certain Droit who exploited an industrial undertaking in 1832, on behalf of Ranavalomanjaka, the first in the name. Center of the alliances between Ambohimanga, Antananarivo and Ambohidrabiby, the village would be, in 1863, the first burial of Radama II, victim of a regicide.
Further on, Namehana was made famous by a battle between the royal and
The rear-guard of the French expedition in 1895.
At Ambohidrabiby reigns around 1600, Ralambo. He leaves the memory of a warrior at once formidable and cunning. He was the first to organize the hierarchy of the noble castes, later organized by his descendant Andriamasinavalona. It is also he who gives his kingdom the name of Imerina Ambaniandro, allusion to the fact that it dominates the kingdom and that only the sun overlooks it.
Ambohimanga is the best known of all the sacred hills and it is the cradle of the merina dynasty. It is from there that Imboasalama conducts his campaigns of reunification of the Imerina.
To the northwest, is Ambohidratrimo of which the king Rabehety resists long to the conquerors before recognizing the king of Ambohimanga. This is the legacy of Rambolamasoandro, mother of Radama Ier.
Kaloy, perched at an altitude of 1,600 meters, is the birthplace of Andrianampoinimerina, of which he later imposed weights and measures throughout the kingdom.
To the south-east, Alasora- to which is attached Imerimanjaka- is the cradle of the strains of Merina royalty, with Rafohy and his daughter Rangita. The son of the latter, Andriamanelo, father of Ralambo, reigns there around 1540.
To the south-west, Ampandrana near Ankadivoribe, is the cradle of vazimba sovereigns. Andrianampoinimerina does not place any of his wives, but he invokes it
Always to relate to the time immemorial.
Antsahadinta is the stronghold of Rabodozafimanjaka, whose end is tragic. Suspecting her disloyal maneuvers, her royal husband made her undergo an ordeal.
Ambohijoky, formerly Analamasina, is distinguished by the long resistance of the Manisotra against Andrianampoinimerina. Thereafter, the latter installed the oldest of his wives, hence his name of “Hill of the elder”.