Volubilis: A Roman Outpost in Morocco

Founded in the 3rd century BCE by the Carthaginians and later controlled by the Berbers (Amazigh), the fortified city of Volubilis became an important Roman outpost in the 1st century CE. Located near Meknes, between Fes and Rabat, it was the most distant North African outpost in the empire. The city remained a Roman stronghold until 285, when it was defeated by local tribes. It was inhabited through the 11th century. City structures remained substantially intact until 1755, when the earthquake that destroyed Lisbon, Portugal caused the collapse of Volubilis and other sites in North Africa. The city has been partially excavated and some reconstruction has been undertaken.

The Tingis Gate, northern-eastern entrance to Volubilis,168/169 AD. Volubilis had eight monumental gates. Notice the stork’s nest on the column. They are everywhere in Morocco.

Map of the Roman Empire. Volubilis is on the left side in Mauretania Tingitana. It is the largest and best-preserved Roman ruins in Morocco. It became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.

The Decumanus Maximus, the east-west main street in the Roman expansion of the city. The Arch of Caracalla, heavily restored in the 1960s, is at the far end. The rich, fertile lands surrounding Volubilis produced olive oil and grains.
A panoramic view of some of the townhouses in the upscale area of the city. The wealthy residents had large peristyle houses, many with mosaic floors and private baths. Volubilis was a thriving city and an administrative center for the Roman Empire.

Volubilis is known for its well preserved, though in some cases heavily restored, mosaic floors found in the houses of the wealthy classes and in public and private baths. The subjects are generally mythological characters and stories, fantastic beasts or nature. I enhanced the colors in a couple of the photos below to really capture the image. In situ, the mosaics appear duller due to bright sun and deterioration due to the elements. The originals would have appeared brighter, like this first image.

House of Venus
House of Dionysus and the Four Seasons
House of Orpheus floor, one of the largest mosaics
Dolphin mosaic floor in the private baths of the House of Orpheus.
Detail from House of Orpheus mosaic
A section of a house.
Fertile fields of Morocco’s Jebel Zerhoun Plain supported Volubilis and supplied olive oil and wheat to much of the empire.
The Arch of Caracalla. The extensive reconstruction in the 1960s has been questioned.
The Capitoline Temple dedicated to Juno, Jupiter and Minerva, c. 218 CE.
The Basilica. Originally a judicial and administrative hall, it was later used as a church. Early 3rd century CE.
After the city was abandoned and following the earthquake, stone and architectural elements were pillaged for buildings in other cities, such as nearby Meknes.
The red bricks show areas of restoration or reconstruction.

One of my goals on this trip was to see if I could be happy using a cell phone camera when I traveled rather than hauling around my DSLR and a lens or two. I purchased a Samsung S22 Ultra and for the most part shot all my photos with it. Overall, I am pleased with the results though, even with four optical lenses on the phone, I miss the optical zoom on my main DSLR lens. The phone camera was especially handy when taking photos from a moving bus.

Il Mare del Sud

Southern Italy is surrounded by seas. The Ionian, the Tyrreanean, and the Adriatic. You could see all three in a day. Here are a few of my favorite sea shots.

Time and Temperature

Weathered wood and cinder block fencein Placentia, California.

Join Terri’s Sunday Stills: A Weathered Look

Silent Sunday Reflections

Ponte Vecchio, Firenze, Italia

The Balrog Tree

The Eye of the Beholder

Brunelleschi’s Dome

Brunelleschi’s dome for Il Duomo in Florence is the largest masonry dome in the world. Constructed from 1420 to 1434, the dome was the last element added to the cathedral. The dome is self-supporting. It is 45.5 meters in diameter.

The paintings by Vasari and Zucarri, showing The Last Judgement, date from 1572-1579.

%d bloggers like this: