A Travellerspoint blog

Moroccan Outliers

Off the beaten track in Volubilis and Moulay-Idriss

sunny 24 °C

Volubilis near Meknes is listed as a World Heritage Site for being an exceptionally well preserved Roman city, but it looked to us as though the place has been left to rack and ruin. It is, of course, nearly two thousand years old, but that’s no excuse for leaving the beautiful mosaic floors exposed to the elements…
The city was abandoned by the Romans but remained inhabited by Berbers for nearly 800 years until Mohammed’s grandson, Idriss, set up home nearby and arranged for the original building materials to be carted away to build a new city. Some of it, like this triumphal archway…
and the Forum…
have been restored…But much of the ancient roman city of Volubilis ended up in the houses of nearby cities and all that’s left is a pile of rubble overgrown with weeds. The nearby city of Moulay-Idriss on the other hand is well preserved and much venerated as the resting place of Idriss, the first Arab Sultan of Morocco, who seized power in 788 AD….
The city is draped over the top of a dome shaped mountain and Idriss’s mausoleum is in the green roofed mosque in the centre of the town. The mausoleum is one of Islam’s most revered sights and is a truly wondrous thing, but heathens like us are strictly forbidden from seeing it – only god knows why. We did, however, get to see plenty of donkeys…


Donkeys and mules are still a very common form of transport in Morocco, even in the major cities – just as they were two thousand years ago when the Romans ruled this land. These donkeys were transporting rubble from a building site apparently without anyone telling them where to go…

Next time - a wander through the narrow souks of Fes, where donkeys reign supreme.

Posted by Hawkson 23:38 Archived in Morocco

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Fantastic first photo of Volubilis, really captures its history and what you feel looking at this site. Shame about the mosaics, it's true....

by Simon and Mouna

maybe the donkeys have more brains than the people..I cant believe how close all those houses are on that dome! We are so lucky to have some space here.

by Jean McLaren

I am thoroughly enjoying this armchair avdenture. Keep up the good work!
Do you have a date for the book launch yet? My December calendar is starting to fill and I will want a few copies of the new book for Christmas gifts.

by catherine

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