ABOUT VOLUBILIS (30 KM FROM MEKNES)
Volubilis (Walili) is a partly excavated Roman city in Morocco situated near the city of Meknes, and commonly considered as the ancient capital of the Roman-Berber kingdom of Mauretania. Built in a fertile agricultural area, it developed from the 3rd century BC onward as a Amazigh and Phoenician-Carthaginian settlement before being the capital of the Amazigh kingdom of Mauretania. It grew rapidly under Roman rule from the 1st century AD onward to the end of 3rd century, and expanded to cover about 42 hectares (100 acres) with a 2.6 km (1.6 mi) circuit of walls. The city gained a number of major public buildings in the 2nd century, including a basilica, temple and triumphal arch. Its prosperity, which was derived principally from olive growing, prompted the construction of many fine town-houses with large mosaic floors. The ruins remained substantially intact until they were devastated by an earthquake in the mid-18th century and subsequently looted by Moroccan rulers seeking stone for building Meknes. It was not until the latter part of the 19th century that the site was definitively identified as that of the ancient city of Volubilis. During and after the period of French rule over Morocco, about half of the site was excavated, revealing many fine mosaics, and some of the more prominent public buildings and high-status houses were restored or reconstructed. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed for being "an exceptionally well preserved example of a large Roman colonial town on the fringes of the Empire".