Global Destinations:
Choose your Middle East Destination:
Other Options:
Morocco Travel Guide - Home

Roman ruins and tree goats in fascinating Morocco

Volubilis roman ruins in Morocco
Volubilis panorama by James Byrum / CC BY-ND 2.0   

When visiting exotic Morocco, most people tend to head to the big cities, like Casablanca, Marrakesh and Fez. However, there are many exotic and interesting sights to see in this North African country.

Volubilis and the glory that was the Roman Empire

For those with a love of history and archaeology, one site well worth the visit is Volubilis, an ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, ideally located on a Meknes to Fez tour. The original city was built back in the 3rd Century BC, but has seen a wide range of occupiers, including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans. However, by the year 285, locals took the city back. Then in moved the Latin Christians, followed by the Muslims. Finally the founders of modern Morocco, the Idrisid dynasty, took over the city, but abandoned it in the 11th century when moving their seat of power to Fez. 

After an earthquake in the 18th century, many of the city’s stones were removed to build the city of Meknes. However, during the French occupation, archaeological excavations revealed the glorious remains of the Roman city of Volubilis, with its beautiful, intact mosaic floors, an aqueduct, baths, temples and a basilica.
Roman mosaic in Volubilis, Morocco
Volubilis mosaic by Catchpenny  / CC BY-ND 2.0

The remains of the Roman city are a worthwhile visit, as are the famous storks, who have taken up residence on top of the Roman columns. While storks are found on monuments all over Morocco, Volubilis is reportedly one of their favourite nesting places. The site was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1997 and is well worth the stop along a tour down the road from Meknes to Fez.

The Tree Goats of Morocco

Images of the famous tree goats are often used in humorous memes on social media, but they are a very real animal. The reason for their tree climbing is a simple one. Goats love the fruit of the gangly and thorny Argania trees that grow all over the country. While the trees themselves are nothing much to look at, the sight of so many goats, balancing precariously on the rough and crooked branches, is a fascinating one. While this is a common phenomenon throughout Morocco, the photo below was taken in Essaouira.

Tree goats in Morocco
Tree goats by yellow magpie / CC BY-NC 2.0

Argania trees are a rare species, grown almost exclusively in Morocco. While in the past they were over-farmed, these days they are a protected species, offering up an annual fruit crop. This delicious fruit attracts hordes of goats from the surrounding areas, which jump up onto the branches to enjoy a feast.

Strangely, the local farmers have no problem with the goat fest, but they do keep the animals away until the fruit is ripe, only giving them access at the perfect time. While this may sound bizarre, there is method in their madness, as after the goats enjoy their feast, the animals pass valuable clumps of seeds in their droppings, which are then pressed by the farms to create the much sought-after Argan oil.

Due to this profitable practice, there has been some concern about the fact that so many goats come into the area to feed, as this may affect the general health of the Argania trees. It is hoped the delightful and quirky tree goats won’t end up eat themselves right out of a good perch.