You probably heard that the oldest dinosaur in the world was discovered in Morocco. But have you heard of Volubilis? An ancient Berber and then Romanized city that was one of the largest Roman cities in Africa? It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located near Moulay Idriss Zerhoun (a town in northern Morocco), the ruins of Volubilis are the most beautiful Roman ruins in Morocco. They are also among the main Roman ruins in all Africa.
If you are traveling near Meknes or Fez, and are interested in the ancient ruins, I advise you to spend half a day visiting Volubilis.
Volubilis, a little history…
The history of Volubilis perfectly represents the multiple cultural influences of Morocco. The city bears the marks of several civilizations.
Volubilis was founded in the 3rd century BC. It was then the capital of Mauritania. Mauritania was then the territory of the Berbers. Volubilis was therefore originally a Berber city.
The city developed rapidly when it was controlled by the Romans. At its peak, Volubilis had between 10,000 and 20,000 inhabitants according to historians. The city lived mainly from the olive oil trade. The plains surrounding Volubilis remain covered with olive trees!
Volubilis was abandoned by the Romans towards the end of the 3rd century AD. It was then inhabited by a Christian community. Later, when Islam arrived in Morocco, the city was Muslim and inhabited until the 11th century.
The city was then abandoned and very well preserved until the 18th century when a major earthquake seriously damaged Volubilis.
Today, Volubilis remains a major and well preserved Roman site.
Visit Volubilis, a rather well-preserved ancient city
The Roman ruins of Volubilis are very interesting to visit because they are particularly well preserved for a city that dates back 2000 years!
After the earthquake that damaged the uninhabited city of Volubilis, several objects and statues were stolen or exhibited in museums. Stone or marble blocks were used for buildings in the surrounding area, even as far as Meknes.
Nevertheless, the Volubilis site remains of interest. There are splendid mosaics, many carved columns, oil presses and various buildings that can be found in most Roman cities.
One of the symbols of Volubilis is the Arch of Caracalla. This rather well-preserved arch is 8 meters high and more than 20 meters long. Its initial height was 14 meters!
We must also mention the Tingis Gate, the Decumanus Maximus, the Basilica, and the Capitol. The main ruins of the Roman city, you will not be able to miss them during your visit to Volubilis.
The site is quite extensive, it takes at least 2 hours to visit Volubilis.