Discovering Volubilis, Morocco’s forgotten Roman city


This partially excavated Roman city near Meknes holds a treasure trove of ancient discoveries dating back to the 3rd century BC.

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Our travels through Morocco so far have been roughly following a well trodden tourist route set out in our Lonely Planet book. Going from Tangier down through the Atlas mountain range then back along the coast, stopping off at major towns along the way.

This is probably the first time since we started travelling that we’ve actually looked out for sights and tourist attractions. Up until Morocco we were taking our time with no real plan and just seeing what we found, but here with the time limit of our visas and the excitement of being somewhere completely different we’ve been spurred on to make sure we see everything there is to see. That being said, we haven’t been too strict and remain open to the road taking us in a different direction if that’s the way it goes…

We hadn’t planned to spend more than one night in Meknes as it’s a quieter, smaller town than its neighbours and we were keen to push on to the mountains for some hiking, but when we read about Volubilis in our Lonely Planet guide we had to schedule in an extra day.

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We weren’t sure what to expect from the place as our attempts to visit museums and historical sites in other towns before this were sadly interrupted by ‘Faux guides’ and tourist traps where shopping is the only option! We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived in the car park to be guided to the entrance and charged the very reasonable 10 MAD (less than 1 euro!) entry fee.

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The main thing to say about Volubilis is that it is huge. Even if you were just going for a quick walk around it would probably take the best part of an hour, but really you want to take your time and explore the individual buildings and seek out the incredible mosaics.

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On entry a few different people offered us a guided tour but we decided we wanted to take our time and explore on our own. We heard the guides with other groups on our way around speaking perfect French, German and bits of English.

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A mosaic depicting some kind of athletic competition in which a donkey had to be ridden backwards…

The Lonely Planet Morocco book has some detailed information about the site and a map listing the names of each of the ruins which was very helpful as there aren’t many information signs there. When we visited an impressive looking museum was under construction but not yet open to the public.

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At Volubilis you can see ruined palaces with amazing mosaics and bath houses, olive presses, villas and the Triumphal arch standing proud, giving you a feel for the grandness of this once bustling city. At its peak, Volubilis had around 20,000 residents!

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One of the things we really love about visiting places like this in Morocco is the freedom you have to wander around anywhere you like, without the restrictions of health and safety rules.

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We spent several hours exploring Volubilis and would definitely say that it is one the best historical sites we’ve ever visited (and we’ve visited lots!). Anyone coming to visit Morocco should add it to their itinerary, you won’t regret it!

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2 thoughts on “Discovering Volubilis, Morocco’s forgotten Roman city

  • Lesley tutt

    Wow the roman city ruins are amazing especially the mosaics! Sadly we were advised against taking our van over due to its size and very very low undercarriage of tanks etc 😒
    You look to be having great fun ……it’s such a fantastic feeling isn’t it being able to go where and when you fancy at the drop of a hat ….enjoy

    • wildvan1 Post author

      Thanks Les! 🙂 Yes we really enjoyed the Roman ruins. The roads are great 95% of the time, you just dont’ know when the next bit of off-roading will come! Hope your both well x