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Volubilis, Morocco
Fast Facts
Ancient Ruins
Points of Interest Nearby

Roman Ruins of Volubilis


Photo by Alfredo De Simone

Volubilis, Oualili in Arabic, is the largest and best-preserved Roman ruins in all of Morocco. The Romans settled the site around 40 AD. Volubilis was built atop a much earlier Carthaginian outpost. The ancient city once housed a population of 20,000 and stretched over 40 hectares. Volubilis served as the administrative center of the Roman province Mauretania Tingitana. It was a breadbasket of the Roman Empire; wheat flourished in a then cooler climate and was shipped throughout the dominion. Unlike other Roman settlements in Morocco, such as Lixus, Volubilis wasn't abandoned with the fall of Rome. The city was inhabited until the 11th century and its residents - Berbers, Greeks, Syrians and Jews - spoke Latin up to the arrival of Idris I in 789. Yet what makes Volubilis, a World Heritage Site since 1997, a must see for families are the in situ mosaics and well-excavated ruins. The most notable remains include a forum, basilica, triumphal arch and capital. The best mosaics are found in the House of Orpheus, House of the Ephebus and Cortege of Venus.
Arch of Caracalla
Arch of Caracalla

Arch of Caracalla

Alfredo De Simone

The Arch of Caracalla is a triumphal arch. It was built in 217 AD by Marcus Aurelieus Sebastenus, governor of the Roman province called Mauretania Tingitana. The Arch of Caracalla was built in honor of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, nicknamed Caracalla, and his mother, Julia Domna. It celebrates Caracalla's grant of Roman citizenship to the freemen of the province. Like all Roman triumphal arches, it is made of marble. The Arch of Caracalla has two huge columns, known as piers, and single archway in the center. A bronze statue of Caracalla in a six-horse chariot once topped the monument. While the Arch of Caracalla sits at one end of a ceremonial street, Decumanus Maximus, it is neither a city gate nor part of a rampart. The triumphal arch is a free-standing monument.
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