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The island is rich with archaeological excavations and finds from what was an island city. Many beautiful relics are well displayed in the museum.
Just 400,000 m² in size, the history Mozia is very ancient: as a shipping centre and staging post, and due to its presence near the coast of an important trade city, it was one of the most important Phoenician and Carthaginian settlements in the Mediterranean area.
The Phoenicians transformed the inhospitable island, which they called Motya, into one of the most affluent cities of its time, naturally defended by the lagoon as well as high defensive walls. Ancient windmills and salt pans were used for evaporation, salt grinding and refinement, and to maintain the condition of the lagoon and island itself. Recently the mills and salt pans (called the Ettore Infersa) have been restored by the owners and opened to the public.
In the 6th century BC, due to the struggles between ancient Greece and Carthage over Sicily, Motia sided with the Phoenicians and Carthaginians against the Greeks. The ancient settlement at Motia, founded in the 8th century BC, was destroyed by the Syracuse tyrant Dionysius the Elder in 379 BC.
During the Middle Ages, Basilican monks settled on the island and renamed it San Pantaleo, and in 1888 was rediscovered by Joseph Whitaker.
The island is c 1 mile in circumference and can be walked in a number of ways between sights. There are many sites which have been excavated historically, and some still active, presumably in the summer months. There are areas set to the growing of vines for wine.
Flora and fauna
Sheltered from the worst of the Mediterranean winds by offshore islands, but can be breezy.
Access to the island is by one of 2 ferry companies and costs EUR 5. The journey takes about 10 minutes.
To enter the island and small museum costs a further EUR 9.
The North Gate site is particularly impressive, with massive stone structures, an under-sea causeway to the mainland and even ancient ruts in the roadways.
A small cafe provides food and drink at reasonable prices.
There is no accommodation on the island.