Sunday, 7 April 2013

The World Heritage Site of Volubilis

South of Fes and Meknes in the north of Morocco are the breathtaking ruins of the Roman city of Volubilis.

The archeological site of Volubilis is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It was founded in the third century B.C. and became a Roman outpost. While it looks rather small from the hill above, it is actually quite large and has extremely well preserved mosaics.

One of the ancient doors to the fortified city and the main street lined with partial building facades. You can almost imagine Ben Hur's Hollywood rival riding up the road on his chariot to get to the arena on time for the famous race.

Beautiful mosaic with its colours enhanced by the rain. Mosaics were the floor tiles of wealthy Romans.They were made with small pieces of coloured glass, stone or metals. Romans chose the motifs to tell a story or represent family members, gods, famous or mythical people or everyday scenes much like one now use carpets with sports team logos or wood floors with inlaid designs.

In Volubilis, the houses were built of stone, some had their own baths, a luxury in those days and all had mosaics as floor coverings.

If you are in that area, you must see Volubilis. It gives you a rare opportunity to be transported back in time when ancient Romans lived there. You will walk inside the house walls through that door on the right and imagine being entertained in the open mosaic covered atrium, then walking to the temple...

...or to the public baths like the ones below. Going to the "thermes" was as much a social as a sanitary outing. There were cold baths, steam bath and areas to relax with friends afterwards. There were also  massage and exercise rooms. Sounds like our modern spas?
Water was brought from the nearby river via an aqueduc, was then distributed to houses through canals that ran under the streets and was heated by wood burning "stoves" much like the Hammams (steam bath) of today.

Images: Joelle Desparmet, Unesco, Pinterest


  1. Dear Joelle, What haunting beauty! Your photographs are stunning. ox, Gina

    1. Thank you Gina. It is quite something to see a whole roman "city" sprawled out in a field and to find such well preserved mosaics.

  2. Looks like we have a mutual admiration society forming.
    glass and stone mosaic