Today I’m taking you on a road trip to see Volubilis, an enormous UNESCO World Heritage site whose ruins mark a once vibrant Roman town.

It is reachable by car within two hours from Fes unless you make a lot of pit stops to check out what’s beyond the hills:

From the parking lot, the ruins do not look that huge even if already impressive…

and I am more enamored with the museum that’s a few short months away from completion–so modern in juxtaposition to the ruins:

You can walk the ruins on your own (especially if you have a guide book handy) or you can pay a guide for a personal tour. The first thing my guide shows me is this, the definition of Volubilis (Morning Glory flower):

Volubilis was built over a Carthaginian settlement that was built on top of a neolithic community. It served as an administrative center for the Roman civilization and prospered from trades of olive oil and grain. Certainly it was the most distant point of the Roman Empire, yet it swelled to 20,000 strong in its heyday. It is believed that the town was demolished by an earthquake in the late 4th century AD.

Once I set foot on the grounds, the ruins open up in more ways than one. Let’s talk about the first way, and that is the sheer enormity of it all. There are kitchens, public baths, forums, public halls, grand arches, basilica, and private courtyards…

even places for the Romans to worship the sun…

The main road that cut through town is immense and stretches into the horizon in both directions:

It’s hard to tell you how big this place is from photographs, but maybe these pictures will give you some perspective:

Now I know that there are some five basic Roman columns and arches, but I can’t really point to them exactly right now. Here are a few that I find:

One of my favorite things from the ruins are the intricate mosaics covering the floors. They are like tapestries carved into the ground…

My guide pours a little bit of water on it to reveal the true colors:

So I’d mentioned above that this place opens up in more ways than one….after a couple of hours of walking through history here, I can feel its legacy. I can clearly imagine those bygone days where these grounds rumbled in trades and politics and thousands of personal stories. Lifetimes from now, I wonder if someone will excavate my home town and imagine the same things? I’ll just sit here in my Tory Burch tunic (I know, I’m still trying to remember to work in the fashion angle on the road) and revel in the past a little bit longer…


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