From Rabat our tour takes us east toward Fes with a stop near Meknes at the Roman ruins of Volubilis. Along the way we are treated to views of verdant valleys, green hillsides, row crops and olive groves sheltering herds of grazing sheep for nearly 90 miles.
Not far from the ruins we stop for lunch at a traditional restaurant. Their chicken tagine, tagine of roast lamb and vegetables and olives, couscous with raisins and cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices, are each delicious and rich.
At Volubilis a local guide leads us over a hillside to the remains of a city, originally built by the Romans in 300 BC and later conquered by the Berber. The city thrived in its many incarnations for roughly 1400 years before Fes became the seat of government and commerce and Volubilis was abandoned.
The once great city had an Arch de Triomphe, a Basilica, and beautiful stately homes with intricate mosaic floors, several of which can still be seen.
Wild storks watch from their high perches as our guide walks us through what is left of Volubilis.
Roman ingenuity has always impressed me. It’s amazing to think that many of these homes had heated floors thanks to clay pipes running from the local hot baths which were powered by a boiler system. The baths at Volubilis offered hot saunas, warm saunas and a cold room called a frigidarium, as well as water for fountains which cooled homes in summer. One house had an aquarium built into the floor featuring a wave of stone which created a small side pool where the fish would be moved while the main tank was cleaned. The engineering and craftsmanship that went into Roman cities was incredible.
In the distance we see the remains of the aqueduct which provided water for the city.
Like many other countries of the world, Morocco has sweet stray dogs and cats who have learned to come to local tourist attractions to find food and affection. Several of them stretch out across ancient mosaics to warm themselves in the sun.
After an hour or two of exploring, we make our way back to the bus, via the gift shop, to cover the last fifty miles before we reach Fes.
Very interesting, it’s not what I expected for landscape and architecture! Cool place to visit and learn the history! Thanks for sharing
Abandoned cities are so interesting and eerie!