Roman Ruins, Volubilis in Morocco
Posted Mar 26, 2012
While many visitors to Morocco on a European cruise want to spend their days at the beach or weaving through the region's busy medieval markets, this North African country contains Roman ruins that allow tourists to have a brief respite from the crowds. These 2,000-year-old sites are located in some of Morocco's most beautiful locales and the minimal foot traffic allows history buffs to imagine the illustrious past of these forgotten cities without interruptions. Casablanca's architecture also boasts a fascinating history of Roman and Muslim influences, and the Archaeological Museum contains artifacts from Chellah, a prosperous Roman town that was abandoned in the 9th century.
A stunning example of Morocco's Roman history is Volubilis, located outside of Casablanca. Situated beneath the illustrious Atlas Mountains in a field of olive and almond trees, these ruins recall a time of amazing grandeur. With a population of about 20,000, the buildings once boasted elaborate floor mosaics and sweeping arches that are now covered in vines and shrubbery. Greek and Roman mythological sculptures such as Dionysius, Bacchus and Hercules' son Hylas are still intact throughout the site, making visitors from European cruises feel as though they are discovering these ruins for the first time.
Sala Colonia's ruins are incorporated into the medieval necropolis Chellah, and are among the most visited Roman sites in Morocco. Beautiful botanical gardens are located near the ruins, making this an ideal destination for those who want to take a leisurely stroll during a European shore excursion. Although not as expansive as the ruins at Volubilis, Sala Colonia is still impressive as it is perched on a hill that overlooks the Bouregreg River.
Morocco's Archaeological Museum is located in the capital city Rabat, which features the most extensive collection of artifacts found in the country. A collection of items from the Volubilis ruins as well as pieces dating back to the neolithic era (4000 B.C.) line the walls and were first put on display in 1932. This museum provides context to Morocco's multiple influences, which combine Greek, Roman and Muslim cultures.
On European shore excursions, Princess passengers can enjoy the market at El Bahia Palace and Djemaa el F'na. Numerous photo opportunities abound in these colorful and busy markets known as souks. Brimming with a vast assortment of spices and handmade goods, these souks are an exciting way to learn the art of Moroccan bartering and bargaining. Travelers lucky enough to go on a Moroccan adventure will enjoy a traditional lunch with wine and local delicacies before heading back to their vessel.