Four wheel drive adventure in the Sahara Desert, Mauritania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Chinguetti, Mauritania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Back to Morocco on January 31st.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Who knew there were Roman ruins in Morocco?

Yesterday morning we said goodbye to our hosts at the little farm stop restaurant. Such nice people. The father insisted we see his simple family home before we left, so we followed him up for a tour. 

I did not take photos, but it was pretty basic. One entrance room, one sitting room with a big homemade couch that lined all the walls, one bedroom for the adults and the two kids, and a kitchen. But it was clean and comfortable, although I did not see any heat source for chilly mornings.

We thought afterwards that maybe he invited us into his home, because he wanted a tour of Max. Which we should have offered but it just never occurred to us until later. We kind of feel bad about that.

We hit the road towards the ancient Roman city of Volubilis. It was only about 100 kms (62 miles), but it took almost two hours. As I've said, unless you're on the toll roads, you don't get anywhere fast in Morocco. It's rare that your speed gets much higher than 60 km/h (36 mph). 

And of course there were several towns to go through.

We went through one section of plains with a lot of agriculture.
We actually saw small tractors at work here.

Scenery along the way.

High school kids waving at us.

Can you fit any more hay on that truck?
Apparently they can. We saw other trucks loaded more than this one.

Oranges for sale at the side of the road.

At one point, the GPS routed me on a shortcut. You never know what kind of shape some of the backroads are in, or if they go through village routes that aren't motorhome friendly. And google streetview doesn't work in Morocco so I can't do the research that I normally do.

At first, I thought I might have made a mistake taking this route.

Local woman riding a horse.

Fortunately there wasn't much traffic.

It was a little busy getting through this town.

Our first view of Volubilis.

We made it to the parking area and it was busier than I thought it was going to be. There were four other campers and motorhomes there, two from France, and one from Germany. We paid 20 dirhams ($2.60 CAD, $2 USD) for parking which we thought was a lot considering you're not allowed to stay overnight. 

We had some lunch, and then walked over to the entrance and paid our 70 dirhams ($9.30 CAD, $7 USD) each for the entrance fee. It's a bit pricey considering the local economy, but I knew this in advance because there is a lot of discussion on the travel forums about how prices for this type of activity in Morocco have doubled in the last couple of years.

Roman ruins in Morocco.

I didn't realize this, but there are several Roman ruins sites close to the north coast of Africa. Volubilis is the largest one in Morocco, but there are some in Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia as well.

At its peak around the year 117, the ancient city of Volubilis had around 20,000 residents. After the fall of the Roman empire, it continued to be inhabited by local tribes for another 800 years. By the 11th century it had been totally abandoned. The ruins were devastated by an earthquake in the mid 18th century. 

Excavation took place at various times throughout the 1800's, with a lot of work continuing between 1912 and 1930 when much of the reconstruction took place.

The basilica.

Ruth, with the rebuilt basilica.
Notice the stork nest on one of the columns!

The capitol monument was built in the year 218.

This section of the Basilica was reconstructed in 1930.


The main attraction at Volubilis is the number of Roman mosaic floors that are open to the elements, and totally on display. They are roped off so that you can't walk on them, but otherwise are totally available for viewing.


Some are in better shape than others.




Dolphins?

This floor drain was different.
We saw another similar one later.

Me, with the rebuilt walls of the basilica.

The bricks in between the columns are not original.
They were the 1930's idea of restoration.

Ruth, grinding some flour.


At the House of the Acrobat.
So called because of the mosaic depicting a man riding backwards on a horse.

Ruth, at the public fountain.

The remains of the public latrine.


Mosaic in the House of Venus.
Very intricate design!

A 2,000 year old road.

The Gordian Palace, a huge 74 room residential house, had the walls recently rebuilt.

Lots of pieces of broken pottery lying around.



More mosaic floors in the House of Bathing Nymphs.

The House of the Nereids had a beautiful bathing pool.



Ruth at the Triumphal Arch, built in 217.

We had spent two full hours wandering around. 

We've been to quite a few Roman ruins sites now, and Volubilis is not one of the better ones. Modern archeologists now think that a lot of the reconstruction that had been done in the early 1900's isn't very authentic and they got a lot of it wrong when rebuilding what was left. 

However I think the mosaic floors alone make the site worth visiting.

From there, we headed another 12 kms (7 miles) south to the Zerhoune Bellevue Campground.

It had mixed reviews, but we really like it!

We have our own site, with room to sit outside with our table and chairs.

Not bad, for 115 dirhams ($15.30 CAD, $11.50 USD) per night, including electric. From what I'm reading, this is actually still a bit expensive by Moroccan standards.

But nonetheless, we think we are going to stay another night and just relax today. Maybe go for a walk.

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Record low deal on this 2 Pack of Camco RV Slide Out Supports.

And in Canada...

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