Marsala – The origins of the city

Motya Charioteer

Motya Charioteer

Marsala is a town of about 80,000 inhabitants in the province of Trapani in Sicily.

It owes its present name to the Arabs that, during the 8th century rule, called Marsà ‛Alī (Ali port) or Marsà Allah.

Reconstruction of Mozia in the fifth century b.C.

Reconstruction of Mozia in the fifth century b.C.

Its foundation dates back to 397 BC when Dionysius of Syracuse invaded and destroyed Mozia, thriving commercial Phoenician island, forcing the surviving inhabitants to take refuge on the mainland opposite.

In 241 BC, the city fell under Roman rule becoming progressively, thanks mainly to its geographical position, one of the most important centres of the island. Lilibeo Roman, in fact, was a bridgehead to Africa, a naval base and outpost from which departed the expeditions against Carthage.
The strategic relief of the city in terms of military and naval enabled the parallel development of commercial activities. Lilibeo even became the seat of one quaestor of Sicily, a role that between 76 and 75 BC covered Cicero who mentions the city in several steps of Verrine not hesitating to call it splendidissima civitas.

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