Meknes/ Volubilis

Meknes_VolubilisSituated at the extreme northern tip of the Middle Atlas, surrounded by fertile lands in which centuries-old olive groves and vineyards flourish, is the Imperial city of Meknes.  One of Morocco’s most beautiful historical cities, the old medina is surrounded by triple thickness 25 mile long walls which preserve the most beautiful gate in Morocco, Bab El Mansour.  The vision of the 17th century Sultan Moulay Ismail, see the ruins of an immense palatial complex which once comprised stables for 12,000 horses, hanging gardens and ponds.

Meknes_Volubilis2A short drive from Meknes and Fes are the sprawling ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis.  An UNESCO World Heritage site spread over 40 hectares; these are the most well preserved Roman ruins in Morocco.  Romans began building of the city of Volubilis around 40AD, with the aim of maintaining control of this North African region.  Development increased rapidly in the 2nd and 3rd centuries when the Romans embarked upon the cultivation of grain.  The triumphal arch, built in 217 in honour of the Roman Emperor Caracalla and his mother, originally housed a bronze chariot atop its ancient stones, and was rebuilt in 1933.  Wonderfully preserved mosaics in vivid colours, nearly all of which depict mythological scenes, can still be seen.  Remains of palaces, baths, basilicas and spectacular mosaics transport you to a time 2000 years ago.  A few miles from Volubilis is the holy city of Moulay Idriss.  It was here that Moulay Idriss I, a direct descendent from the Prophet Mohammed, arrived in 789 bringing with him the religion of Islam.  Just off the main square is the Mausoleum of Idriss I, a sacred destination that is open only to Muslims.