Website Category: Frontiers of the Roman Empire
Area: 0.4 km2
Criteria: (ii) interchange of values (iii) cultural tradition (iv) icon of an era (vi) association with belief system
Location and Values: The ruins of the Roman town of Volubilis are located in a commanding position overlooking a fertile agricultural area on the flanks of the Jebel Zerhoun in northern Morocco, about 30 km north of Meknes. Volubilis was the Roman Empire’s most remote and far-flung base, and, as such, it lasted little more than two centuries, its garrison withdrawn in 285 AD to relieve pressure elsewhere. But it was an impressive town, enclosed by a rampart (built in 168-9 AD), with eight monumental gates, and an array of public buildings including a basilica, capitol and triumphal arch. It was a centre of olive oil production, and its wealthier classes built lavish courtyard houses with intricate floor mosaics.
The Roman town was in fact built at the site of an earlier settlement, and archaeological evidence points to 1,000 years of continuous occupation from pre-historical times through to the early Islamic period. As with other Roman towns, the site has been used as a source of building materials, the marble columns that flank the impressive city gate (Bab Mansour) at Meknes originating from here.
Slideshow of the Archaeological Site Of Volubilis: The slideshow starts with some distant views of the site, which can be seen for kilometres around, standing prominently in the present-day agricultural landscape. The Triumphal Arch and Basilica are two of the town’s most striking features visible from afar. Entering through the old city wall at the (re-constructed) Tangier gate, the slideshow follows down the impressive Roman main street (Decamus Maximus) which was lined with the houses of some of the town’s wealthiest people. Several photos of the Triumphal Arch with its inscriptions and stone-carved busts are included, before moving on to the arched building of the Basilica and adjacent marble columns of the Capitol (some of which are crowned with stork nests). In the extreme south of the site, a complex of heated baths is a recent discovery, and much of the site remains to be explored. Returning to the main site, details of some of the best mosaics are shown, together with a re-constructed olive oil press, the main public baths, and additional pictures of the Capitol, Basilica, Forum and Decamus Maximus.
Slideshow of the Archaeological Site Of Volubilis:
Google Earth View: To view satellite imagery of Volubilis on Google Earth, click here. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing.
Other Links: Official UNESCO Site Details