The ancient city of Volubilis in Morocco
By Seif Kamel
Volubilis is an ancient Moroccan city located near Meknes. Many different natural conditions have contributed to the early human settlements in this location. Volubilis is one of the touristic highlights added to many travel packages to Morocco.
The most important was the availably of water resources, cultivated lands, and building materials. The city used to overlook a fertile piece of land and many inhabitants of the city used to work in agriculture.
Volubilis was mentioned in many historical records and the archeological discoveries in the city have found many interesting buildings that date back different period of time. Many of the remains of these buildings are still in a good shape today for travelers coming to spend their holidays in Morocco to view.
During the period of Juba II, who ruled the region from 35 BC till 23 AD, and then his son Ptolemy of Mauretania, the city has witnessed great prosperity and it has become the capital of Roman capital of Mauritania.
When the Romans took control of Volubilis they have developed the city greatly and built many temples, Roman baths, courts, and many houses decorated with mosaics.
Excavation works have also discovered many items in Volubilis like pottery, coins, and many statues made out of marble and bronze and many of these findings are now on display in the Museum of Rabat that many travelers like to visit as part of their vacations in Morocco.
Many of the remarkable buildings in the city of Volubilis were built out of stones quarried from the nearby mountain of Zarhoun. This includes the Temple of Capitol that was built in 217 AD, the Triumph arch built in the 3rd century AD, and the public arena.
The city also hosted a number of neighborhoods with wide houses that were all richly decorated with mosaics. There is the Northern Eastern section with the house of Hercules and the Cordian palace and the Southern section of the city.
Archeological findings have included olive squeezers, grain mills, and the remains of fortified walls that were built during the reign of the Emperor Mark Oriel who ruled the region from 167 till 169 AD. This wall was around 2 kilometers and a half long and it had eight gates and many monitoring towers.
Volubilis is considered a remarkable site, from the archeological and touristic aspects and it was added to the UNESCO human heritage list in 1997. A tour to the city is normally added to many private tours in Morocco.
The main road of Volubilis is one of the most remarkable monuments in the city. The road is connected to the Southern and Northern sections of the city with streets and some narrow lanes.
The main road goes until the Triumph Arch at the end located in the heart of the ancient town. At the top of the arch, there is a carved image of emperor Cracla that was made in 217 AD when the emperor exempted the inhabitants of the city from paying taxes.
The excavation works carried out in Volubilis in Morocco has pointed out that this location was inhabited since the 3rd century BC.
The first civilization to flourish in the area was Mauritanian. Starting from 40 BC, it has turned into a Roman town. Volubilis has witnessed its largest civilization during the 2nd century AD as the city was protected with huge walls that contained circular towers all over.
Until today, excavations are still carried out in Volubilis to unearth more and more of the city's treasures. Many more lands have to be searched in the city to shed light on many historical aspects of Morocco and Northern Africa. This is why many travelers visit the ancient city as an exciting part of their tours in Morocco.
After entering the ancient city of Volubilis and viewing the sign requesting the guests to pay attention to the cleanness of the city, the guest will be amazed with all the beauty in the city. This includes marvelous natural scenery with many ruins of the city. Many of the buildings of the city are still standing greatly reflecting the marvelous architecture of the city in the past.
A visit to the ancient city of Valubilis grantees the guests with a chance to walk through the past moving around houses that date back even before the Roman period. This is why it is added to many Morocco travel tours.
Many structures in the city were named after certain characters or events. The houses may differ in some aspects but they still share some common features. Every Roman house used to have wide courtyards with many columns all around, several rooms, reception and dining halls, and public and private bathrooms as well.
The palace of "Gordianus" is considered to be one of the largest structures in Volubilis these days. The palace is around 5000 square meters in size. It was rebuilt during the period of the Emperor Gordianus III between 238 and 244 AD.
There is also a large waterwheel in Volubilis located in the center of the city. The waterwheel represents the end of the water canal from the Western side. Beside it, there is the main public bath area of the city.
Many groups of tourists who travel to Morocco visit the ancient town of Volubilis everyday to view the monuments of the city and enjoy the trees, lakes, and many natural scenes there.
A visit to the city provides the tourists with a wonderful interpretation of the history of Northern Africa. The site is also quite popular among locals in Morocco as well with many families visiting the ancient site to enjoy walking around the green fields and gardens.
There are many gift and souvenirs shops located near the entrance to the ancient city of Volubilis. These shops sell many products including locally produced handicrafts and many other gifts that were gathered from different locations in Morocco. Many travelers who enjoy their trips in Morocco visit the ancient city and the small market nearby.
Every year an arts festival is organized in Volubilis where many Arabian and international singers participate. This festival is aimed at consolidating the values of peace and the dialogues between different civilizations. Many concerts are held during this festival that has become popular among tourists and locals all the same.
There is a small cozy hotel near the ancient city of Volubilis offering all sorts of services to the guests that include air conditioned rooms, many restaurants with magnificent views of the place around it. Having lunch in the hotel, after visiting the ancient city, is always a good idea for tourists spending a trip in Morocco.
A visit to the ancient city of Volubilis is always memorable as it gives the guests the chance to get to know the history of the whole Northern African region. This is besides enjoying the wonderful natural scenery of the area. This is why the visit to the ancient city of Volubilis is recommended in any tours to Morocco.
An extensive excavation works have been carried out in the ancient city of Volubilis in 2008 and the project is funded and supported by the Moroccan government. This process will include building a new theatre for the city and a museum for the archeological findings in the ancient city of Volubilis.
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