Mozia (Motya) is an ancient Phoenician colony founded in the 8th century. B.C. on one of the four islands of the Stagnone lagoon, what we know today as the island of San Pantaleo, facing the western coast of Sicily. It was a trading post like most Phoenician colonies and served as a docking point for ships sailing the Mediterranean. When the Greeks began to colonize the eastern part of Sicily, the Phoenicians retreated to the western part and Motya became a town of considerable importance.

History of the Phoenician city of Mozia

Involved in the 6th century BC in the clashes between the Greeks and Carthaginians for the dominion of Sicily, it was surrounded by walls so that its defense could be improved. Dionysius the Elder, tyrant of Syracuse, besieged and destroyed the city in 397 BC, forcing its inhabitants to take refuge on the mainland in the colony of Lilybaeum, or present-day Marsala. After the battle of the Egadi Islands in 241 BC. Sicily came under Roman rule (with the exception of Syracuse) and Mozia must have been almost completely abandoned even then.

It was Giuseppe Whitaker who rediscovered Motya, he was an English nobleman whose family had settled in Sicily, his house is still on the island today and has been transformed into a museum.

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What to visit in Mozia

When you arrive on the island, towed by fishermen’s boats or ferries, you are surrounded by a whirlwind of scents and colors, thanks to the Mediterranean vegetation, especially lush in spring. By taking the path it is possible to walk around the perimeter of the island and discover the remains of the ancient city of the Phoenicians, the route takes about an hour and a half and it is preferable to do it in an anti-clockwise direction. The fortifications of which interesting evidence still remains, also show the presence of watchtowers along the route, the eastern one in particular still retaining its rectangular base and access staircase.

Passing through the North door, which is also the best preserved, it is possible to see a building with three naves, probably with a religious function. Returning towards the shore you come across the archaic cremation necropolis, made up of tombstones and urns. Followed by the Tophet, which designates the sacred area with an open-air sanctuary, and the Cothon, a small artificial basin of rectangular shape connected to the sea and opened by a canal, whose function is still uncertain today.

Once you reach the South gate you will finally be able to admire the Barracks of which some vertical elements are still visible, the House of Mosaics with two beautiful mosaics in black and white pebbles and finally the House of Amphorae behind the museum, which owes its name to the In fact, a large number of amphorae were found in that area.

The young man from Mozia

On the island of Mozia, a beautiful marble statue dating back to the 5th century BC was found in 1979. and known as the Younger or the young man of Motya.

It was buried under a mound of clay and calcareous marma probably made by the Moziesi themselves. It depicts a draped male figure, perhaps a charioteer of the Greek school and may have been brought to the island by the Carthaginians after the sacking of Selinunte. According to some it is a young man driving a chariot, according to other hypotheses it could be a god or a Punic magistrate.

The statue is kept at the Whithaker Museum in Mozia.

Times to visit the island

From 1 April to 31 October: from 10.00 to 14.00 and from 15.00 to 19.00.

From 1 November to 31 March: from 9.00 to 15.00


Full €10 – Reduced (students and children) €6

How to get to Motya


The closest train station served by the national service is Marsala. The ferry departure point is approximately 3km from the station.


Reach Trapani/Birgi then follow the signs for the Saline di Marsala dello Stagnone. Then leave the car at the pier and take the ferry to the island.



Tel: +39 349 6256508


Where to sleep near Mozia

Listen to the episode of our Podcast dedicated to Mozia!

Ascolta “Arké – Pip & Mozia” su Spreaker.