The archaeological site of Volubilis is Morocco’s best-preserved Roman ruins and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.
Volubilis was built in the 3rd century B.C. on a fertile agricultural area in northern Morocco in between the modern Imperial cities of Meknes and Fes. Volubilis was once an Amazigh (Berber) settlement and was also known as the ancient capital of the Mauritanian Kingdom. It later became under the rule of the Roman empire and was established into an important 42-hectare walled city and outpost which was once home to 20,000 residents.
The archaeological remnants of this ancient site bear witness to several civilizations: from Mauritanian times as an independent kingdom to a metropolis province and outpost within the Roman empire, to become the capital of Idris I who was the founder of the Islamic Idrisid dynasty.
It is evident from the archaeological ruins that this ancient city’s original layout separates the wealthy from the poor inhabitants. In the poorer area located near the site’s main entrance, the homes are no bigger than the size of two small rooms. Beyond the basilica along the Decumanus Maximus (the city’s main street) lies the wealthy area where its inhabitants live in large private mansions. The ruins of many private mansions make it easy to identify its architectural layout of a large courtyard and many private rooms for the family and guests. Many of the mosaics within these homes are still left intact and well-preserved.
Other notable buildings and structures in Volubilis include the Arch of Caracalla, the Decumanus Maximus (the city’s main street), the Tingis gate, triumphal arches, basilica, the Capitoline Temple and other temples, public hammams (baths), and an olive room with a reconstructed olive press.
At the entrance of this archaeological site is a small museum with many excavated ruins with inscriptions and other artifacts that is worth seeing.