The Roman city of Volubilis

On my most recent trip to Morocco, I had the privilege of visiting the Roman city of Volubilis. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was the Mauritanian capital, founded in the 3rd century B.C., it became an important outpost of the Roman Empire.

It was late afternoon when I arrived at Volubilis, the great Roman city perched on a hillside overlooking a fertile valley of olive groves and corn. A site chosen for its nearby hills that had sent water down to the ancient city whose aqueducts had in turn given water to its inhabitants and to its great traditional baths- forerunners of the Hamman's......

Through the great Tangier gate down the Decumanus Maximus avenue, I imagined the merchants in their shops doing great business down the Champs Elysees of the time. So did I also imagine Napoleon being inspired by the great Arc de Triomphe placed so dramatically at the end of the Avenue with a view out over the curving rows of olive trees when he came to build its now more famous namesake in Paris.

If you can time your visit to Volubilis to be in springtime when the fresh green grasses and delicate flowers appear between the cracks in the vast stones of the temple and its nearby palaces resplendent with mosaics, you will enjoy its riches even more. Take a light picnic with you and perch on a pile of Roman stones by one of the seven gates. And with half closed eyes, imagine this great city of 20,000 inhabitants bustling with chariots and carts , peopled with men and women buying and selling their wares, and vibrant with the flowing white robes of great men and their wives receiving their guests into their mosaic floored palaces.

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