Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Volubilis, Morocco

After our incredible visit to Chefchaouen, Adam and I (and our personal driver from Y'alla Tours) headed south on a long drive toward Fez. Along the way, we stopped at Volubilis for a little history. This partially excavated city was once capital of the ancient kingdom Mauretania, and was later taken by the Romans before they were ultimately overthrown by local North African tribes. By the end of the 8th century, it was occupied by Idris ibn Abdallah whose dynasty ultimately became Morocco. The city was abandoned in the 11th century as its inhabitants migrated to Fez. 

Aqueducts built around 70 AD carried water from the surrounding mountains to the city, and water flowed through intricate networks of stone channels through the houses and public baths. The grander homes boast elaborate mosaic floors telling stories of mythology, and sculptures of marble and bronze. Adam's favorite fact: the wealthy families owned slaves whose job was to sit on their toilets to keep the seats warm between uses. Seriously. Volubilis sat in a very fertile agricultural area, and their main export was olive oil; some of the stone olive oil presses are visible at the site.

The ruins were devastated and largely buried in the mid-18th century by a large earthquake. While Morocco was under French rule, between 1912 and 1956, much of Volubilis was excavated. The ancient city was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, and it's not hard to see why. This was such a beautiful and fascinating stop on our trip, and we thoroughly enjoyed learning so much about Morocco's history outside of its modern day cities. 

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