The oldest and most attractive part of town is the pedestrian Haute-Ville (known as Tanana Ambony in Malagasy). Utterly removed from the hustle of the rest of the town, the Haute-Ville feels more like a quiet hilltop village. It’s famed for its architecture – two-storey brick houses with steep roofs, balconies and tumbling plants – which dates back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A stroll around the cobbled streets here offers great views of the town and surrounding countryside.
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There are six churches on this small hill alone, including the imposing Ambozontany Cathedral. Many of the buildings in the Haute-Ville are in a bad state of repair – local association Fondation Heritsialonina is working to restore and promote the area’s heritage. You’ll see an information board about its mission on the main cobbled stairway through the Haute-Ville. Many locals will tell you that the Haute-Ville is a Unesco World Heritage site. This is not true.