Volubilis In 10 Pictures

If you ask me for one word to describe Volubilis, it would be Wow!

The Roman ruins of Volubilis

The trip to Volubilis was a part of our 3-day off-the-beaten-path adventure. Check Morocco In 3 Days: Thinking Outside The Box for the entire itinerary.

Mind you, I am not crazy about ancient ruins. Modern ones put my imagination into overdrive, whereas visually reconstructing two or three thousand years old buildings out of their mere outlines is not my cup of tea. I admire archeologists for their ability to put together a convincing picture of a house or a temple when all they have is just an elusive footprint buried underground. A bit of science plus a touch of magic and, voilà, here is a Roman household. This is not math and guessing is a part of a game. I love reading signs unabashedly explaining that whatever is in front of you could be either religious or food storage. Volubilis is different.

We would never know how Volubilis looked exactly when it was full of people at the height of its existence. I was surprised not to be concerned about it. Instead, I admired the present setting: picturesque ruins of mighty city embedded into an emerald bowl of the valley adorned by misty hills. What an amazing sight!

Volubilis was the Roman Empire’s most remote base

Walking around, I realized that I was not looking at the ruins for their historical value. I could care less about the exact purpose of any building there. Sometimes we just need an emotional recharge.

Hard to believe that we are not in Italy

Of course, finding a quiet place for meditation was not easy. The ruins of Volubilis were buzzing with activity.

For a remote place, Volubilis is quite buzy

Local schoolchildren on a field trip provided enough noise to scare a couple of storks away from their nest. Charismatic guides were loudly entertaining groups of tourists. Even working donkeys were passing through occasionally uttering a bray or two.

Do not pet me, I work here

Luckily, Volubilis of today is not as busy as it used to be when it was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Mauritania. Getting off well-trodden major paths and going toward the edge of excavated part of the city would lead to a quieter place with panoramic views of the river and green fields.

Volubilis, Morocco
Time to relax

A brief history of Volubilis

Volubilis (Arabic: وليلي , Berber: Walili) was the ancient capital of the Roman-Berber kingdom of Mauritania. It was founded in the 3rd century B.C. and was the Roman Empire’s most remote base. The ruins of Volubilis are located about 30 km north of Meknes overlooking a fertile agricultural area at the foot of Zerhoun mountain in northern Morocco.

Back in the day, Volubilis was doing quite well

It was a prominent settlement enclosed by a rampart with eight monumental gates.

The basilica, the capitol and the sole permanent resident of the city – the stork

Public buildings included a basilica, capitol, and triumphal arch.

The main road through the city looks looks enormous even today

Wealthier classes built luxury courtyard houses with intricate floor mosaics.

Mosaics adorned houses of city’s well-to-do

Volubilis was a center of olive oil production. Because of its isolation and the fact that it had not been occupied for nearly a thousand years, Volubilis presents an essential level of authenticity.


Practical advice

• You will be advised to hire a local guide at the entrance gate. In doing so, you would support the local economy. However, in my personal experience (indeed, we got the guide) and from observing other groups with guides, these gentlemen provide more entertainment than significant historical information.

Our guide showing us how to use solarium

• Do not hurry to leave as soon as your guide finished the tour. Let him go, leave the ruins behind and enjoy the quiet beauty of the setting. Volubilis is surrounded by fantastic nature. It reminded me of Tuscany. It is easy to see why Romans chose that particular place.

A room with a view

• Do not forget water and sunglasses.

• Naturally, the guide would expect a tip. We were advised that tip can be as high as 300 dirhams depending on your satisfaction with the tour.

Oops, somewhere along the road, 4 more pictures sneaked in, but I kind of like the title 😀

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Volubilis, the capital of ancient Mauritania

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3 thoughts on “Volubilis In 10 Pictures”

  1. Amazing Elena! I am in the same boat; not a fan of ruins generally because you do in fact need to do much mental legwork, to picture these places. When visiting the Tomb of the Kings in Cyprus I experienced this; amazing site but so much had broken down I needed to imagine quite a bit. Not so with Volubilis. Pretty darn well preserved. Thanks for sharing 🙂


    • Great to hear from you, Ryan! Thank you very much for your comment. Interesting that you mentioned the Tombs of the Kings. I am with you; it is more about imagination there than the actual artifacts. I was fascinated with nature there – it really looks like an alien landscape – but was less taken by historical aspect of the place. Cheers!

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