Volubilis and Meknes
Trip Start Aug 27, 2004
20Trip End Jan 24, 2005
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The first Moroccan kingdom was founded at Volubilis in 788 AD by Moulay Idriss, a descendant of the prophet who was fleeing the Abassid caliph Haroun al-Rashid who ruled in Baghdad. Volubilis is an ancient Roman city, one of the Western-most of the Empire. It was built about 40 CE on the site of a 3rd century BC Carthaginian settlement and was ruled by the Berber prince Juba, whose wife was the daughter of Marc Antony and Cleopatra. Volubilis remained the Roman seat of power in Morocco until the Empire fell. Afterward, it remained a Berber village until it was demolished in the 18th century by Moulay Ismail, the brutal founder of the Alaouite dynasty, the dynasty which still rules today. If not for Ismail, Volubilis would have been one of the best preseved ancient Roman cities in the world. Volubilis was excavated (read: stripped) by the occupying French in 1925, so if you want to see many of the most beautiful artifacts of this city you'd best visit Paris, no? Oui.
Right next to Volubilis is the town of Moulay Idriss in which you can find the tomb of Idriss I, who was assassinated by Haroun al-Rashid. Idriss's tomb is a place of pilgrimage.
Meknes was once a completely Berber city, but Ismail turned it into an Arab imperial city in the 17th century when he made it his capital.