Volubilis, Morocco – a brief stop into a Roman past

Tell me about ancient civilizations, fallen Empires, and I am all ears. For a brief time as a child I wanted to be an archeologist. Yes, excavating things from the past sounded like a very exciting job, but soon I came to realise it looked a lot more excited in the movies than in real life. So I decided I’d be happy with movies and books to satiate my hunger for knowledge 🤓

I think there is some poetry in the fall of any long lasting empire and that is perhaps one the most fascinating things about empires. It makes me wonder how incredibly structured and organised societies, which were holders of mindsets we could now say “ahead of time” only because these empires were destroyed, and with them their ideals, principals and laws.

There were many things wrong about the Roman Empire. Starting with slavery – there were clear defined societal layers, with women still being considered as unequal without the right to be considered citizens. But there were as well good things about the Roman society – it beholden some of the first notions of republic, and by defending tolerance and free thinking it allowed the germination of some of the greatest thinkers in the history of mankind. They were also great engineers, mostly due to the creation of the roman numerical system – they built roads, invented the water wheel and constructed amazing aqueducts upon which we still look in amazement today.

Volubilis was part of this empire and it is today the best preserved archeological site in Morocco. It could be even better if it wasn’t for the famously named Lisbon’s earthquake of 1755, but it’s amazing how well the some of the tile work has survived throughout the ages.

Without a guide, it will be hard for you to understand what your seeing – there are no plaques or information points in the site itself. I do think a guide is always helpful when visiting ruins. It helps you to visualize a lot better what these blocks of stone once were.

But the site itself is beautiful. A lot of the city still needs to be excavated – bear in mind that it is estimated Volubilis used to house over 20,000 people. But around you there are only the mountains and the green fields. It is so peaceful, and the air is so clean. Hard to imagine once that was the place of a big city. I tried to imagine the cacophony of sounds – the horse pulling carriages in the streets, the vendors, the passersby. It was hard – there are only remainings of that time and the silence of nature to listen to.

It is usually very hot and sunny in this site, and guides advise you to take a hat, protect your skin with sunscreen and drink a lot of water. We got a rainy day – which in a way was great for my photos, but I had to watch out for my lense as the drops of rain kept falling from the sky.

Moulay Idriss seen from Volubilis

After the visit, my body was aching for some good coffee (which you can actually find in Morocco by the way), so I sat in this little esplanade admiring a few cats and how they photographed so well with the ruins in the background.

To see more of my Moroccan itinerary, checkout my articles about Casablanca, Rabat and Moulay Idriss.

Love , Nic

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