The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #89


A reader writes:

Legoland? Wherever it is, it’s so damn cute I have to go there!


Got it! It’s that enormous miniature railroad in Hamburg!


Am I the only one who thinks this looks like an intricate model of a town? That would be fantastically diabolical.


There is something almost sinister about this place in its doll-like perfection which makes me think of a J.G. Ballard novel – all tickety boo on the surface and a heaving maelstrom beneath. Please tell me that I am quite wrong and that it is a lovely place where happy people live their lives in peace and harmony.


It looks like Launceston, Tasmania.  I remember walking a building like that red brick one a few years ago when I visited Tasmania.  If I’m right, there should be a sculpture of some Tasmanian Tigers nearby.


I don’t have time to research, but that looks a lot like Qingdao, the old German concession in China. A lovely seaside city with beautiful but rather polluted beaches, home of a vigorous wedding industry, and source of the second-best beer in the country (I’m a Yanjing man myself). Someone will undoubtedly calculate the precise building, etc. … probably in the Azores or something, but there you go.


I have been away from my computer for a while but that was the easiest View From Your Window I have seen yet.

I have wondered when a Madagascar picture will come up. To be more exact it is from the window of the Colbert Hotel looking down at the Supreme Court building in Antananarivo, Madagascar. Both old relics of colonialism.

Another sends a lovely view of the city:


I visited Madagascar in 2004 with a team of scientists on a fossil expedition and have a photo from a very similar angle. I believe this week’s photo was taken from the Hotel Colbert in downtown Tana looking SE towards the royal palace (the square building in the top center right of the photo).


This is the first time I take part in the VFYW contest and as soon as I saw the entry it brought me right back to my trip to Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, in 2006. The palatial structure high on a hilltop in the background is the former royal palace. A few clicks to Google Maps led me to this picture taken in the same angle as the VFYW entry. The entry looks like it’s been shot from the same location, a building on rue Samuel Salomon. Hope this is precise enough!


View-from-balconyWhat we’re seeing here is the view from what I believe is the 4th floor (in the event of a tie, I’ll say room 412) of the Hotel Colbert at 29 Rue Prince Ratsimamanga in Antananarivo, Analamanga, Madagascar. The red and white building at the bottom left of the picture appears to be home to the country’s High Constitutional Court, while the turreted structure on top of the nearby hill is the Manjakamiadana, or Queen’s Palace, which is housed within a larger royal complex called the Rova. I was fortunate this week; hours spent browsing Flickr or Wikipedia while procrastinating have left me with a decent eye for Madagascar’s distinctive take on European architecture, so I was able to pin this one down after a couple of detours to Black Sea cities. Attached is a picture from Tripadvisor that was taken from a room almost directly above your reader’s.


I was taken aback when I saw this week’s VFYW photo. I’ve lived in Madagascar for years (although I’ve been in the U.S. for several months) and recognized this view of Antananarivo immediately. The ornate, peaked, colonial era building in the foreground is in the Fitsarana Avo Momba Ny Lalampanorenana (Ministry of Justice) compound, and across the street the long yellowish building is the administrative offices of the Antananarivo Farintany (province). I live in the smaller city, Moramanga, to the east and when I visit Tana I frequently stay with a friend who lives in the Amparibe fokontany (neighborhood) just out of the picture to the right. I’ve walked the street seen below countless times over the years on my way up to Antaninarenina, centre ville of the colonial era, which is where the Hotel Colbert is located.

Hotel Colbert

At the top of the hill and to the right is the imposing Tana Rova, or Queen’s Palace, home to the 19th century monarchs. It was nearly destroyed in a catastrophic fire in 1995 and is in the slow process of being restored. To the left of the Rova is the Lycee d’ Andohalo, and left of that, the white building is the 19th century Norwegian Lutheran Church. All the way to the left is the minaret of the mosque on the avenue Lalana Ranavalona III, named after the last Queen of Madagascar who was deposed and exiled by the French in 1896.

The Hotel Colbert is several buildings that are joined and are situated on a steep incline, so guessing a particular floor or room number from this photo is nearly impossible – the first floor on the north entry side could be the 5th, 6th or 7th floor on the south side. This window is facing towards the southeast. My best guess would be 3rd floor corner window above the dining room. I put an X next to the window that seems the most likely candidate.

Fa, izaho miheriheritra ianoa tokony manome ny boky aminaho satria ny olona hafa anoano fotsiny ny varavarana kely, angambe izareo omeo vinavina-kevitra, fa izaho efa malala ny toerana akaiky ny Hotel Colbert, ary izaho efa anoano ny varavarana kely taloha matetika. Misaotra Tompoko.

No one guessed the correct floor, so the tie-breaker goes to our most dogged VFYW follower, who has competed in pretty much every contest but hasn’t won until now:

Great view. I spent my self-allotted 15 minutes trying to make this VFYW come from Hobart, Tasmania before deciding on a whim that it had to be some other Victorian era capitol, and the palm tree had me thinking Africa. It took me just a few minutes more to decide we were in Madagascar – found by luck on a scan of Victorian architecture images where I recognized the Queen’s Palace (on the distant ridge top).

Once I figured out the city, I Image003completely threw out my rules and became determined to win one of these out right. I was off by only two stories with that hotel in Ulaan Bator and have had several other close calls where better stories or trigonometry deservedly beat me out. I’m sure we are in the Hotel Colbert and just a floor or two above La Fougere restaurant’s patio. But I’m unsure of the exact building or floor (I can’t find any intel about which floor the restaurant is on). Maybe from a room in the newer building of the hotel, two floors above the patio restaurant, which would make it about the 7th floor? So it’s another guess … with no great story to bolster it. Hope my collage of photos and history of other correct guesses will carry the day.

This city looks tremendous – another place on the long list to go see.

A long-awaited congrats!  The guy behind the lens writes:

Here is my submission taken from the Hotel Colbert in Antananarivo, Madagascar. This is from the second floor looking southeast. I’m an American, here for two weeks working on a public health project. Tana, as the locals call it, is a fascinating city and I hope I’ve captured it’s uniqueness adequately in this photo. It’s a blend of many different cultures. The French influence on the architecture and layout of the city is clear. There are many places where it’s hard to believe you’re in Africa and not France. Off to the very far left is a minaret, and in the hill in the background is Tana’s version of the Hollywood sign (ANTANANARIVO in large letters along the hillside beneath the large building with three visible towers at the top of the hill). The red building in the foreground is part of the Malagasy High Court complex

I’ve been to many capital cities around the world and Tana is one of the most intriguing. It’s too bad that the political situation in the country is so messed up. If published, I think it would be the first image picture of Madagascar on The Dish.

He thinks right.