Volubilis – Roman Ruins in Morocco
If you are visiting Morocco and are interested in history, I know the perfect place for you to visit - Volubilis Roman Ruins. We visited Volubilis during our last trip to Morrocco. We were on the fence about going, but in the end we were so glad that we went. It was the highlight of our day.
The last stop of our week long Morocco trip was to a small non-touristy town called, Moulay Idriss. Volubilis is about 2 miles from Moulay Idriss. Volubilis is an ancient Roman city, about a 1.5 hour drive west of Fez and about a 40 minute drive north of Meknes. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is known for being very well preserved. We stayed the night in Moulay Idriss and drove our rental car (15 minute drive from town) to go and see it. You can also walk it if that's your style, in about 45 minutes.
A Bit of History
Volubilis is an ancient Roman and Berber city. It developed in the 3rd century as a Berber settlement and then became a Roman settlement in the 1st century AD and onward. In the late 2nd century there were 20,000 inhabitants living there, which was a large number for this type of Roman city. These people lived off of olive production, making oil from their olives. They also grew grain and raised different types of animals. During this time, it was known as one of the richest small cities in this area. Volubilis is known for its large mosaic floors that are still intact today. The ruins stayed completely together until an earthquake hit them in the 18th century. In the 19th century it was officially named – the ancient city of Volubilis.
To get into the ruins it costs 10 MAD for adults and 3 MAD for children under 12. They open at 8:30 AM and close an hour before dusk. They are open 7 days a week. If you go during Ramadan the hours might differ slightly due to the nightly breaking of the fast.
Go During Sunset
Go to Volubilis during sunset! We went in the early evening and stayed for about 3 hours. We hit the sunset perfectly when we were there, and it was absolutely gorgeous. Seeing Volubilis is beautiful any time of day, but nothing beats seeing it mixed in with a colorful sunset. The lighting was perfect for pictures which is always a plus in my book.
Hire a Tour Guide
When we arrived, there were some men loitering outside of the entrance. They were tour guides that live around the area and are trying to find work among tourists. At first we were a little annoyed by them, but in the end we were so glad they were there. We ended up hiring one of them for 100 MAD ($10) to take us on a private tour around the ruins. I can’t remember his name, but he was a very nice man and had a cute brown dog with him that followed us around the whole night. The dog even photo bombed some of our pictures. The tour guide didn’t speak the best English, but it was enough to explain to us what things were and to explain about the history of the area.
The best part about hiring him was for his picture taking abilities. Since he does Volubilis tours for a living, he knows the best spots to take pictures and he is very good at it. I love some of the photos that he took of all three of us. Those are hard to come by these days especially with an energetic toddler. I will cherish these photos forever. He also grabbed a wild flower vine and made a crown out of it for me to wear. He actually originally made it for Jimmy, but Jimmy wasn't interested so I snatched it. Thank you Jimmy. It was so nice to not have to think but just follow our expert tour guide around the ruins. We learned about the history of Volubilis as we went, without stressing about where to go next or wondering what exactly we were looking at. Plus, it was fun to get to know him and his story since he was a local of the area. Definitely try to hire a tour guide when you go!
As we wandered around these ancient ruins I just kept thinking about how crazy it was that we were there. Just thinking about what I was actually doing boggled my mind when I really stopped and thought about it. I was walking around peoples’ homes, their bedrooms even, in their private spaces. People actually used to live here. They had a life here. They raised their families here. They had a massive community with temples, giant arches, and large communal areas. And now . . . t’s all just ruins. Their homes are gone, except for the bare minimum that still exists. These people and their stories are gone and everyone has just moved on from them. It’s fascinating to me that here I am, thousands of years later, walking around their homes and community, in the year 2018. I wonder what they would think about that if they knew – a complete stranger roaming around in their personal spaces. I am so glad that I can experience even just a little of their life, in a short evening trip, through visiting these ruins.
Jimmy loved finding all the dandelions and blowing them with all of his might. He loved watching the white pieces fly in the air and disappear. This activity kept him entertained during our whole time at Volubilis. This, and the dog of course. He liked chasing the dog too. But thank goodness for these flowers. They kept him happy and smiling the whole night.
Jimmy loved seeing a group of three birds on top of one of the ancient columns. They had built a large nest and made this area their home. Jimmy has been really fascinated by birds and nests recently so he loved watching them. He didn't want to leave. Seeing the birds and their nest was the perfect touch to an already perfect evening.
I hope you enjoyed looking at these photos as much as we enjoyed taking them! If you have any questions or comments about Volubilis or visiting that area of Morocco, please leave a comment below!