Travel At Morocco


Day trip to Volubilis and Meknes

Volubilis, or “Walili” in the Berber language, stands as one of Morocco’s most impeccably preserved Berber-Roman ruins. Nestled between the Imperial Cities of Fez and Meknes, it occupies a fertile plain encircled by wheat fields. Dating back to before the Christian Era, during the period when the region was part of Mauretania, Volubilis held prominence as the administrative hub of the Mauritania kingdom. Situated in the far southwestern reaches, it also claimed the distinction of being one of the Roman Empire’s most distant cities.

During the second and third centuries AD

Volubilis experienced significant expansion, marked by the construction of many of the structures still standing today. It is estimated that this 42-hectare walled city was once home to around 20,000 residents. Fueled by the wealth generated from local olive production, the city boasted numerous grand residences adorned with intricate mosaic tile work, alongside public hammams, triumphal arches, and parliamentary buildings, many of which remain remarkably intact despite exposure to the elements.

However, Volubilis was not immune to political unrest during the Roman era. In 40 AD, residents staged a revolt, only to be appeased by the granting of Roman citizenship and ten years of tax exemption. Yet, tensions persisted, particularly with the local Amazigh or “Berber” populace, leading to the Roman Empire’s withdrawal in 285 AD. Despite this, the city’s diverse population—comprising Syrians, Jews, Berbers, and Greeks—continued to converse in Latin, the lingua franca of the region.

Volubilis is home to ancient ruins.

In the eighth century, with the arrival of Islam in the region, the churches were destroyed, although locals continued to inhabit the city until the 11th century. While Volubilis remained inhabited and retained its status as a capital city for centuries following the collapse of the Roman Empire, it lost its administrative center status with the establishment of nearby Fez, and residents were relocated to the mountainous village of Moulay Idriss.

The 18th century

The region was struck by the Lisbon earthquake, destroying buildings. As early as the 1830s, well before the French Protectorate era, the French army commenced excavations. In 1997, the archaeological site of Volubilis was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List.

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