The roman ruins of Volubilis
The fact that this deserted city shares its name with a pretty blue flower is no coincidence! Founded during the reign of Juba II king of Mauritania in the middle of a flowery meadow, Volubilis was enormously prosperous thanks to its precious olive oil trade. The relics left behind unveil all of the mysteries of the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean before the eyes of travellers. Of the city, the residences are the structures which have been the best preserved. Richly decorated with mosaics, frescoes and statues, the contents within their walls have now become a museum: an extraordinary archaeological treasure!
The rich residences of Volubilis
- The house of Orpheus is one of the site’s most sumptuous dwellings. It owes its name to the superb mosaic it houses depicting the legendary travels of the Greek poet.
- The house of the trials of Hercules exhibits a beautiful decoration illustrating the adventures of the mythic hero. The work is very well conserved (10 of 12 plaques are intact), you’ll recognize Cerberus the dog guardian of Hades, the Lernaean Hydra, the Augean stables, etc.
- The house of Venus is the site’s most beautiful as its floors and walls were covered in mosaics. It also boasts some beautiful bronze statues.
- There are many other ancient houses to see in the city: The house of the dog, the desultor (horse acrobat) house, the house of the ephebe, the house of the horseman, the house of Bacchus, the house of four seasons, the house of the bathing nymphs, the house of columns, etc.
The monuments of Volubilis
- The Capitol: only a few columns remain of this edifice in front of which civic cults were once held.
- The basilica of Volubilis, near the capitol, invites visitors to go for a beautiful covered walk. The structure, which served as a courthouse, was also used as a meeting place for the council of the curia, splendid architecture.
- A few footsteps away, walk across the ruins of the forum, in the centre of the city. This humongous esplanade was the town’s preeminent place of gathering and exchange. Make sure to admire its lovely sundial.
- The triumphal arc which stands tall over the site of Volubilis was built in the third century on the city’s central avenue, Decumanus Maximus. A truly colossal monument. From here, the panorama over the Zerhoun plain is grandiose!
- The Decumanus Maximus crossed through the whole city from the arc to the gate of Tangier, and was lined with shops and magnificent residences.
- What is now referred to as the Gordian palace was once the dwelling of the Roman governor of the Zerhoun region.
- Away from the Roman ruins, the little city of Moulay Idriss is well-known for its mausoleum of Moulay Idriss, the Sultan who founded the Idrisid Dynasty. A descendant of the prophet Mohammed, his tomb remains a place of contemplation.