0219. A taste of Old Rome in Morocco (Mor 067--new)
Volubilus Travel Blog› entry 48 of 74 › view all entries
Volubilis is the best preserved Roman ruins in Morocco... not quite sure what to expect... couldn't find a cab heading that way--but fortunately there is regular buses to Moulay Idriss, just 3 miles from the site.
Winding through the hills north of Meknes, we round a bend--and there it was off in the distance... the temple columns standing proudly on a ridge overseeing a vast, fertile valley. This is going to be good.
I get off the bus near Moulay Idriss and head off on foot. To my right are steep rugged cliffs and to my left an idyllic olive grove. I actually wasn't going to count Volubilis as a parkbenching location--the rule is, only INHABITED towns count--but, there since there is a small village right near the ruins, I decide to count it.
As I get closer to the ruins, I am struck by the its jarring contrast with everything around. See, although Morocco has a lot a variety, everything and every place in Morocco is distinctly Moroccan. Every city, village, and street is drenched with a Arab/Berber vibe...
And then there's Volubilis. Suddenly you're struck by the realization that there was a very sophisticated civilization that came, thrived and faded away. So I'm all of a sudden intrigued by the questions: "what lasting influence did the Romans have on ancient Morocco?" and "why didn't they have more of a lasting influence?"
The temple and the royal arch, although relatively small, are magnificent. To see crisp, latin script chiseled into marble and to wander through the ruins of the homes that have all the amenities of the typical luxurious Roman home is fascinating--then there are the detailed mosaic pictures, the baths, the courtyards--truly the Romans--and the well to do Berbers living here were living the good life here in Volubilis.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, this city gradually faded and a new culture, language, architectural style and religion came along and set up base in the nearby Moulay Idriss and it seems that so much of that Roman influence evaporated...
There were, of course, overlaps as the Arab and Roman cultures intermingled for centuries in the Middle East--but in Volubilis and Moulay Idriss it's the differences that are the most striking.