December 26, 2006

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Volubilis is a visually stunning set of Roman ruins. The ruins date back to around 40 A.D. and, unlike a museum, you are allowed to walk around, in and on the structures. Touching columns that are thousands of years old was a great experience. Historically, Moroccans have done more than just touch the ruins - they have taken stones from Volubilis to help build up the walls of nearby Meknes! Today, it is not permitted to remove anything from the site.

We drive to Volubilis and spent quite a few hours wandering the ancient city.
Volubilis is about a one hour drive from Meknes and we see some beautiful olive trees along the way.

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As we drive our little car, we often have to pass donkeys. This is the most common method of transportation, by far.
The town of Moulay Idriss is named after Morocco's most revered saint and the founder of the country's first dynasty. Moulay Idriss fled Mecca in the late 8th century A.D. in the face of persecution from the new Caliphate, who lived in Baghdad.

The town has been opened to non-Muslims for the past 70 years. However, non-Muslims cannot visit any of the Mosques or shrines and cannot stay overnight.

Volubilis is full of ruins. You can walk through them and discover treasures such as mosaics, arches, columns, baths and mills.
These gates ("triumphal Arch") were built to honor a emperor who declared Volubilis part of the roman empire and thereby tax exempt!
The North gate ("Tangier Gate") provides a great overview of the site.
If you remove the keystone, everything falls down!

This is one of those rare days where we see a few wispy cirrus clouds.

The remains of a fancy bath. You put your back in the curved portion and the sun falls on your face. Nice!
The highlight of Volubilis are the mosaics. It is neat to see how they are just part of the house -- much like a rug or carpeting.
... Roman mythological figures...
... here, a man is riding a donkey backwards...
... For the Romans, this symbol was not as controversial ...
Leave it to Justin to find the one column with a penis. It points in the direction of the town brothel.
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