Travel Date: October 2010
Part of our DIY Moroccan itinerary is a half-day trip to Volubilis. Antik and I went by car to this ancient site which is located outside Meknes.
Volubilis was developed as a Phoenician and later, Carthaginian, settlement. It grew rapidly under the Roman rule. Around 285 AD, the town fell to local tribes and was never regained back by the Romans. It continued to be inhabited for at least another 700 years. By the 11th century, the seat of power was relocated to Fes and Volubilis has been abandoned.
The city ruins was destroyed by an earthquake in the mid-18th century. During and after the French rule in Morocco, almost half the site was excavated and some of the prominent structures were restored or reconstructed.
World Heritage Site
Volubilis has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. According to the UNESCO website, the considerations were:
1. The archaeological site of Volubilis is an outstanding example of a town bearing witness to an exchange of influences since High Antiquity until Islamic times.
2. The site is an outstanding example of an archaeological and architectural complex and of a cultural landscape bearing witness to many cultures (Libyco-Berber and Mauritanian, Roman, Christian and Arabo-Islamic) of which several have disappeared.
3. The archaeological site of Volubilis is an outstanding example of a focus for different kinds of immigration, cultural traditions and lost cultures (Libyco-Berber and Mauritanian, Roman, Christian and Arabo-Islamic) since High Antiquity until the Islamic period.
4. The archaeological site of Volubilis is rich in history, events, ideas, beliefs and artistic works of universal significance, notably as a place that, for a brief period, became the capital of the Muslim dynasty of the Idrissids.
The archaeological site is isolated and there is nothing much to do except marvel at the ancient ruins and the fields of Meknes.
Here are some of our photos during the visit.
The Arch of Caracalla was erected to honor Emperor Caracalla and his mother Julia Domna.
The Capitoline Temple was dedicated to the 3 chief divinities of the Roman State, Jupiter (king of the gods), Juno (queen of the gods) and Minerva (goddess of wisdom, arts, crafts, medicine, commerce, defense and magic).
The basilica, which is one of the finest in Africa, was used for the administration of justice and governance