We had a great day trip to Volubilis and Meknes from Fez.  It was very interesting to explore two very distinct cities in one day. One used to be an administrative center of Roman Africa dominated by spectacular Roman ruins and the other used to be the imperial capital of Morocco dominated by high walls and greatdoors that enclosed  a medina, mosques and a royal complex.


Volubilis is a Roman settlement in northern Morocco 58 km/36 mi from Fez. It was established in  40 AD as the administrative center for this part of Roman Africa responsible for grain production and export to Rome.   It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

Unlike other Roman cities, Volubilis was not abandoned after Rome lost its control of this city in 3rd century A.D. It was continually inhabited for another 1,000 years. It was only abandoned in 18th century when it was demolished by then ruler Moulay Ismael to obtain materials for the construction of his palace in the neighboring town of Meknes.


Even the Latin language survived for centuries and was not replaced until the Arabs conquered in the late 7th century.


The Basilica


 The Basilica


Volubilis arches of the ruin of the basilicaThe arches in the impressive ruins of the Basilica.


Like any Roman town, Volubilis could not be without a ceremonial structure of a triumphal arch. This  arch was built in 217 A.D. in honor the Roman Emperor Caracalla.


Volubilis is surrounded by breathtaking plains.


The main street of Decumanus Maximus.


The arched structure in Decamanus Maximus.


Keith walking along more ruins on Decamanus Maximus.


Tall, well preserved columns in the Forum.


The most spectacular features of Volubilis are the well-preserved, colorful mosaics that are on the floors of the ruins of expansive villas.  This one is a mosaic in the “House of Orpheus”


One of the affluent villas.


Passing by Moulay Idriss, one of Moroccos most important Islamic town, as we head back from Volubilis to Meknes.



Meknes was the imperial capital of Morocco under the reign of Moulay Ismael (1672–1727), before it was relocated to Marrakech.

This impressive monumental gateway of Bab el-Mansour leads into Moulay Ismail’s imperial city.


 The heart of Meknès medina is Place el-Hedim, the large square facing Bab el-Mansour. Built by Moulay Ismail and originally used for royal announcements and public executions, it’s a good place to sit and watch the locals go by.

 A vendor in Place el-Hedim.


Relaxing at one of the outdoor cafes in Place el-Hedim.


They said that the tastiest mints grow in Meknes.  Reluctantly, we passed on the mint tea in favor of iced cold Coca-cola. After walking around Volubilis under the heat of the sun, we badly need something cold and refreshing.  After all, it was fun to see Coke cans with both English and Arabic logos.


A horse in Place el-Hedim waiting to take a rider around Meknes.


Keith joined an all-men gathering in the square. They were watching some kinds of storytelling performance. I wondered why women were not interested to join or were they not welcomed?


I was curious and went to take a look for myself.  Apparently, women were not welcomed and one of the men shooed me away.


Tagine pots for sale in the souk.


Shoes for sale in Meknes MedinaThe shoe lane in the medina.

A table of baguettes – a delicious legacy of French protectorate in Morocco.

Grand Taxi ride from Meknes to FezWe took a grand taxi from Meknes back to Fez. Grand taxis are old Mercedes Benzes that run on intercity routes. It was a cozy affair. There were two passengers squeezed on the front seat with the driver and we were squeezed on the back seat with two other passengers.  No wonder we looked uncomfortable.


Travel Notes:

Getting there: To reach Volubilis, we took a grand taxi from Fez to Meknes. It cost about 10 dinar per person.  From Meknes, we chartered a grand taxi to Volubilis for a round trip ride. It took a usual negation and we paid 120 dinar. The driver’s original quote was 200 dinar; they always start exorbitantly high. The acceptable fare for chartered taxi is the total amount of fare per person multiply by passenger capacity (normally 6). From Meknes, we took a shared grand taxi back to Fez.

Travel Date:  October 2007

Photo Gears:  Canon EOS Rebel XT, EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, Casio EX-Z750

Travel Guides:  Lonely Planet Morocco and Rough Guide

Suggested Links:

Related Article: Roman Ruins: Morocco’s stunning sites, with few tourists

Related Blog:  Away We Go

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About Marisol

Taking you on our journey one photo - and footstep - at a time.

15 responses to “Morocco: Volubilis and Meknes

  1. Kara D.

    Hi again. This day trip and the Bhali/Azrou day tip from Fez both sound interesting. We are spending 3 days in Fez. Do you think we have enough time to do one of the day trips? If we have to choose between the two day trips which one would you recommend?

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi again Kara,
      Hi Kara, if you have 3 whole days in Fez you can definitely use one of the days for a day trip? Both itinerary are interesting. I guess it will depend on your preference for transportation. Meknes and Volubilis are easily accessible by shared or chartered grand taxis. I think a bus is also an option. For Bhalil and Azrou, there are public transpo that goes to Azrou but not Bhalil . You will need to hire a car preferably with a driver. The advantage in having a driver is that the driver can suggest some interesting stops along the way that you may not heard of. I hope this helps. I’d love to hear how your trip goes. Have a wonderful time in Morocco!

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