Volubilis is an ancient Roman ruin in the North of Morocco. If you love Roman history, you will have a field day in Volubilis as it is one of the most well-preserved roman ruins in Morocco. It sits on top of a relatively high hill, surrounded by gold coloured fields and olive groves. From atop of the hill where the Volubilis Capitol sits, it is easy to see Moulay Idriss, the other nearby medieval Moroccan tourist attraction.
Ancient Roman Ruins in Volubilis
Watch this video to get some inspiration for your own road trip and then scroll down to read what to do in Volubilis. I have taken some nice photographs and I will give you some tips for your own trip to Volubilis.
Volubilis: Mauritania’s Provincial Capital
Volubilis was once the Mauritanian capital, which is what the Romans used to call Morocco. According to the UNESCO website, the city started out life in the 3rd century BCE and became an important outpost of the Roman Empire. The Romans graced it with many fine buildings and extensive remains of these have survived at the archaeological site. The town later briefly became the capital of Idris I, the founder of the Idrisid dynasty. His remains lie at nearby Moulay Idriss. Volubilis is in a fertile agricultural area of Morocco and the region has continued to be important to this day.
The Volubilis World Heritage Archaeological Site
Volubilis covers an area of 42 hectares and is of outstanding importance demonstrating urban development. The town is also a showcase of Roman culture at the frontiers of the Empire.
The residents of the city were a diverse people and included Africans, Syrians, Spaniards and Jews. The population of the city would have numbered up to 20,000 at its peak.
Watch this video by NHK, the Japanese News Network for a taster then read what to do below.
Things to Do in Volubilis, Morocco
Unfortunately, it is not very easy to reach Volubilis by public transport. The easiest option is to rent a car. If that’s not possible hop in a shared taxi. Many towns and cities have taxi stations where you can share a ride with the locals. This is probably the easiest and cheapest version of transport in the country.
Once you arrive in Moulay Idriss it is a 20-30 minute walk to the ruins. In the summer heat it can be very hot so you might be better off hiring a taxi to the entrance of the museum.
There is a restaurant at the museum and various tour guides which you can hire by the hour. The entry ticket was only 20 dirhams. I am not sure how much the tour guides were as I did the tour on my own. The site has very good signs so I thought I would just go it alone.
The tourist office has sign-posted a loop which takes about 2-3 hours walking, depending on how fast you walk and much you read.
Ancient Roman Sights in Volubilis
The most fascinating sights for me were the huge arches and columns and the authentic olive oil press. Many of the houses have the original mosaics with some amazing images depicting life at the time.
The best is to walk around the edges of town first as most tourist avoid these parts. Here the ruins are not that well preserved but sitting there I could imagine what it might have been like living there all those centuries ago.
At the centre of Volubilis are the best preserved ruins. The Forum Romanum, the Town Hall as well as the richest homes of the city. If you get tired or too hot, you can sit under the olive trees and enjoy the breeze atop this ancient hill.