You can imagine my reaction when I read that out lout from my trip itinerary. It doesn’t sound very… Moroccan, to say the least. Where are the stereotypical camels, belly dancers and tagines?!
Needless to say I was the first one to be surprised to learn that Northern Morocco is home to some one of the finest Roman ruins in the world. No kidding.
The Ruins weren’t appreciated for what they were until the second half of the 19th century, when the French colonies took over Morocco and excavated the site, revealing intact, intricate mosaics, and the foundations of the many buildings that were destroyed by a big earthquake in the 18th century. But the history of the site dates back much further than just 200 years ago. In fact, it was built around 3 centuries BC by Carthaginians, and continued to thrive under the Roman reign until the 3rd century.
Its key to success?
Location, location, location.
Volubilis is situated on top of some of the most fertile land in Morocco, and was famous throughout the Empire for its olive-growing business, grain, and wild animals that were sent to Rome for gladiatorial spectacles.Such high-quality and sought after items made Volubilis one of the wealthiest cities in the Empire – that’s why there are so many fine mosaics and architectural structures to admire today.
Honestly, I had no idea that SO much history went down in the area. We don’t hear about it in history books, nor in history classes in high school. But it was quite fascinating to stand in a place that held such importance and wealth in other times, more exactly almost two millenniums ago.
Especially in a country I never thought was so involved in the Roman Empire!
Good to know:
- Volubilis may seem out of the way, but in reality it’s only 60km from Fes and 30km from Meknes. Do make a stop!
- Hire a private guide for the visit. It lasts about an hour and holds invaluable information about how this place came to be.
- Wear your walking shoes.
- Bring water – the walk around the site can be a bit steep, and in broad daylight, hydration is essential!
Disclaimer: My flight to Morocco was sponsored by Skyscanner. As always, all opinions are my own (but they are pretty awesome, just so you know).