Fianarantsoa ('Place Where Good is Learnt') is a provincial capital and
the academic and intellectual centre of Madagascar. Thanks to extensive
missionary activity it is also the country’s Catholic centre.
Fianarantoa was founded in 1830 when Queen Ranavalona I decided to build
an intermediate capital between Antananarivo and the remote southern provinces.
It lies at the heart of one of Madagascar’s most fertile agricultural
areas, and is renowned for its production of wine and tea. The city has
a chilly high-country feel to it and can get quite cool in the evenings.
To the west of Fianarantsoa is Mt Kianjasoa (1374m).
There are some good walks from Fianarantsoa. One easy one is leading
north-west passing the Ambozontany cathedral; following the edge of the
hill through villages, with pleasant views over the countryside.