Even if you’ve never heard of Volubilis, it’s a place we’d put on anyone’s must-see list for Morocco.
With an idyllic setting akin to fields of green, Volubilis is a place to breathe deeply and listen carefully to sounds of gentle breezes, harvesters gathering wheat, and low-voiced scholars marveling at the mosaics in this city built by Romans in the second century, considered the ancient capital of the kingdom of Mauretania.
From this hill town, you can gaze at Meknes not so far away . . .
and watch as country settings worthy of paintings unfold before you.
People flock to Volubilis for its ruins — remnants of fine town homes with intricate mosaic floors still miraculously intact even after earthquakes in the 18th century rocked the foundations and looters carried off stones for the building of Meknes just over the hill.
Now, as a World Heritage Site, Volubilis commands the respect it deserves, and photographers, historians, and architects roam the grounds seeking insight into the past life of this olive-growing community nestled in the countryside.
But for all its remaining grandeur and historic lure, historic Volubilis lost out the day we were there to another sight, an unexpected one: a rather large stork’s nest perched atop a marble column, home to a mother and little ones.
In fact, most people that day were staring at the storks.
No matter how much the tourists wanted to look more closely at the mosaics or have their pictures taken as they posed in the archways of the Basilica, their attention just couldn’t — or wouldn’t — veer from that fascinating family of storks.
And when in Volubilis . . . well, we did the same. After all, stork sightings are rare for us. With the exception of a few in Romania, we can’t say we’ve seen these high-mounded nests anywhere else in the world, although we know they’re there. We just hadn’t been fortunate enough to see them. Until this day.
But here they were. And here also was that family of storks. Almost everyone in Volubilis that day did as we did: We all watched for long periods of time, holding our cameras still, hoping to see that mama stork pop her head up and smile at the crowd between feedings!
And so it was. We went for the ruins and the history and the countryside at Volubilis . . .
but what left us breathless (yet smiling) were storks. (And, as if this one nest wasn’t enough, we noted a whole tower of nests as we approached the highway headed to Fes the next day!)
We’re adding Stork Staring to our list of must-do’s when in Morocco!
— Bert and Rusha Sams
You can find more of Marvelous Morocco under Travel Series in the heading of our blog.