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Volubilis in Morocco

Volubilis UNESCO world heritage Site in Morocco

What does the name Volubilis mean? Simple, Volubilis refers to the Amazigh or the Berber term “Oualili“. It refers to the colourful bindweed flower, which grows abundantly in the region. The Amazigh/ Berber people inhabited this region long before the arrival of the Romans. Their presence and culture are still in modern-day Morocco. For example, Volubilis is a testament to their remaining influence.

Thus, Volubilis is a hidden treasure in Morocco’s rich historical and cultural heritage. These ruins of the ancient Romans are just 5 kilometres from Moulay Idris and 31 kilometres from Meknes. Before the Romans arrived, the Phoenicians inhabited these areas, followed by the Carthaginians. Romans rebuilding Volubilis marks a different urban plan which is unique in African civilization.

In Morocco Volubilis, some tourism conditions are available. It includes parking, a coffee shop, toilets and other services. When organizing a trip to Volubilis, remember to bring hats or other forms of sun protection. There is almost no place to hide among the Volubilis ruins. There, you will be able to observe powerful, well-preserved columns, magnificent mosaics, and the scent of history. This is what brought the creators of “Jesus of Nazareth” here. Some of the scenes happened in this archaeological site of Volubilis.

The history of Volubilis

 Volubilis is one of the ancient civilizations that reflect Moroccan history. Hence, archaeologists found the ruins of Neolithic villages from the 25th or 40th century BC. But Berbers resided here in the third century B.C. and then the Carthage conquered them. The city then grew quickly as a result of the commerce of wild animals, grains, and oil. However, the city was initially ready to defend itself against the Bedouins or nomads who lived in these desert areas. 

The city was constructed on a regular schedule and had a well-planned drainage system. Because of the woodlands, olive orchards, and vineyards that surround it, the city was never lacking in resources. The remaining mosaic shows several natural animal species. When the Romans left Volubilis in the third century, there was no information about the city. 400 years later, the Arabs conquered this land. Its residents then abandoned the city for unclear reasons between the eighth and ninth centuries. Some scholars link this to the constitution and development of Fez.

Volubilis declined more once Sultan Moulay Ismail began to create Meknes. Almost all of the marble and most of the columns were taken from here to build the city of Meknes. Moreover, the 1755 Lisbon earthquake destroyed Volubilis, causing the construction to collapse. Only the highest parts of the tallest structures remained on the ground. Some of them were the Basilica and the Triumphal Arch, which were found by Europeans who visited these sites in 1874. 13 years later, the first excavations began and lasted until the 1990s. French scholars also engaged in this project since the areas were under French protection at the time. Thanks to this history, Volubilis was among the World Cultural Heritage Sites in 1997.

What is Volubilis famous for?

Volubilis is one of the travel destinations in Morocco. Most Morocco tours include this Moroccan archaeological site because of its attraction and history. So, here are the main attractions to visit in Volubilis:

House of Orpheus.

 This is the true name of the home. It is preserved on a Roman inscription over the door of a wealthy aristocratic residence. The home also is famous for its unique mosaic. It was created in rich styles of smalt, terracotta, and marble. The centre mosaic features the ancient Greek god Orpheus with his harp, horse, and elephant. Moreover, the mosaic floor with nine playful dolphins draws attention.

Volubilis Forum

 The forum’s ruins cover an area of 1300 square meters. Metres are places with pavement where statues formerly stood at the height of the city. Their regulations have remained to the present day. However, the Romans removed the sculptures in the third century.

Bacchus House

The fact that the statue of Bacchus was discovered here after the Romans took all the sculptures defines this location. The statue has been part of the Rabat Museum of Antiquities’ pearl collection since 1932.

The Flower House

The courtyard offers 8 rooms in this vast and elegant structure. Besides, the basement of the building has seven corridors. The flooring of the rooms has mosaic decoration. Surprisingly, the majority of the old Roman art display in Rabat and Tangier was discovered as a result of excavations at the House of Flower. The popular exhibit is the sculpture of Yuba II.

Capitol

In 217, Emperor Marcus described this edifice. Archaeologists were able to identify the Capitol remains and pieces nearby thanks to these documents. So, this paved the way for future partial rebuilding. The construction has straight columns and beautiful stone stairs. All of that demonstrates the majesty of the structure and the degree of architectural talent of the Romans at that time.

Basilica.

formerly, the Volubilis Basilica building held the city’s administrative and judicial institutions. It is worth noting the three navigations. They are divided by two rows of columns with Corinthia capitals. The arched doors in the walls and corners of the structure have been properly maintained.

Triumphal Arch: Arch of Caracalla in Volubilis

Marcus Aurelius completed the Triumphal Arch in Volubilis in 217. It is 19.28 meters wide and 3.34 meters deep. There was once a bronze chariot drawn by six horses at the top of the arch. This composition was created and transported from Rome. It also was partially repaired in 1941. Emperor Caracalla and his mother Julia Domna were honoured with the triumphal arch.

How to visit Volubilis?

 You can visit Moroccan Volubilis by yourself or by a private tour, such as 7 days tour from Tangier. If you’re staying in Fez, contact us for a day trip from Fest to Meknes as the most convenient option. As part of the trip, you have the choice of hiring a guide. In any case, it provides accessible transit to Volubilis and Meknes on the same journey. However, you can use local transportation if you are staying in Meknes. While you are in this city, you can have the chance to visit Meknes attractions. In addition, you can visit the holy city of Moulay Driss Zerhoun. It is just a few kilometres from Meknes.

When is the best time to visit Volubilis?

The months of spring and autumn are ideal for visiting Volubilis. The weather is mild from March to May and September to November. So this is the ideal time to explore the archaeological wonders of this historic site.

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