Marsala is the most populated town in the province of Trapani. Known for the historic landing of the Thousand led by Giuseppe Garibaldi, this city is also renowned worldwide for the production of its namesake wine.
A city with a great historical heritage, Marsala has a rich and varied natural landscape unique in the world.
If you would like to visit this incredible city, below you will find a list of monuments and attractions you may want to check out during your trip!
The Mother Church and the Museum of Flemish Tapestries
The Mother Church, or the Duomo, is one of the most impressive religious buildings in Marsala and stands in the historic center.
The Cathedral is dedicated to St. Thomas Becket, of English origin. The construction of the church can be placed in different historical periods: the exterior facade, for instance, has different architectural and stylistic styles. Inside, however, the sacred building predominantly exhibits Norman style, especially in the high altar area, as well as Baroque style. Moreover, inside the Church you can admire many artistic treasures with great historical value, as well as important archival documents and precious liturgical objects along with gold and silver decorations.
Near the Mother Church of Marsala is also the peculiar Museum of Flemish Tapestries. It is a collection of eight precious tapestries of Flemish origin, dating back to the 16th century, donated by the Bishop of Messina, Antonio Lombardo, in the late 1500s.
Church of the Purgatory
Another very important religious building in Marsala is definitely the Church of the Purgatory, located in the heart of the namesake square. Nowadays, the building houses the auditorium of Santa Cecilia, formerly the Church of Saints Fabiano and Sebastiano.
The building was expanded after a plague and in 1601 it housed the Congregation of the Souls in Purgatory, from which it later took its name. The church was renovated in 1669 to be completely finished in 1710. The exterior facade has clear Baroque influences. The interior is a three-nave basilica plan with transept, stucco ornaments and precious frescoes dating back to the 18th century.
Garibaldi Gate (“Porta Garibaldi”) is one of the gateways leading into the city and is one of the best preserved gates in time. It is located on Via Scipione l’Africano, right in the historic center. It was originally called the Sea Gate (“Porta di Mare”) and was built in 1685 at the behest of Charles II, King of Spain and Sicily, with the purpose of reinforcing its defense system. Later, it was named Porta Garibaldi to celebrate the Italian leader’s entry into the city. On May 11, 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi, had crossed this very gate, declaring Marsala part of the Kingdom of Italy.
Porta Garibaldi has a crowned eagle (coat of arms of the Habsburgs of Spain) at the top and a small terrace on which control activities were carried out.
Republic Square (“Piazza della Repubblica”) is the main square of Marsala, the nerve center of the historic center!
In the square you can admire VII April Palace, originally built in 1576 to replace the ancient loggia of the Pisani family, and the cathedral dedicated to St. Thomas Becket. An important meeting point for locals, Republic Square is also much loved by tourists, who get lost among all its clubs and stores!
VII April Palace
VII April Palace is located in Republic Square and was built following the 15th century as a venue for civic council and magistracy meetings; today, the palace houses the City Council. The building owes its name to the revolt against the rule of the Bourbons, which occurred on April 7, 1860, just days before the landing of the Thousand led by Giuseppe Garibaldi.
The exterior facade features a double loggia and is characterized by arched openings resting on columns; at the center stands the quadrangular clock tower.
On the inside, there is the Hall of Tombstones, where a number of memorial inscriptions are preserved.
The Laguna Salt Pans
About ten kilometers from the city center of Marsala you will find the Laguna Salt Pans. These are a true paradise on earth, featuring ponds, mills and basins. The view is highly suggestive, especially at sunset, with the light effects created on the horizon as the sun sets. Bird watchers will not be disappointed by the Laguna Salt Pans: there are plenty of waterfowl, especially flamingos and herons.
The Stagnone is a lagoon, the largest in Sicily. Enclosed between Capo Boeo and the Birgi peninsula, it is characterized by shallow waters of 1 to 2 meters and no more than 20-30 cm in some places. Within it lies the Stagnone Islands and forms part of the Oriented Nature Reserve “Stagnone Islands of Marsala.”
The lagoon was formed in relatively recent times: suffice it to say that it did not exist at the time of the Phoenician colonization of Mozia and was created as a result of sand movements caused by underwater currents.
The main activity of the Stagnone used to be salt pans.
On the island of San Pantaleo, in Marsala’s Stagnone, lies Mozia, a city of Phoenician origin, most certainly used as a landing point by ancient inhabitants. Today, the town is an important archaeological site: once you get to Mozia, you can admire remains of fortifications and other buildings dating back to Phoenician times, including the Cappiddazzu Sanctuary. If you are a fan of ancient history and archaeology, then the town of Mozia will definitely win you over!
Marsala is famous all over the world for the production of its DOC (Controlled Designation of Origin) liqueur wine.
If you are a wine lover, then you must visit the city’s wineries, the very place where this incredible and renowned wine is produced! Marsala has several visitable wineries, like Cantine Florio. This is a very large facility with great historical importance. Founded in 1833 by Vincenzo Florio, these cellars overlook the sea of western Sicily. Inside, they house hundreds of oak barrels, kegs and vats where the marsala is refined.
Another very famous winery is that of Donnafugata, which owes its name to Tomasi di Lampedusa’s very famous novel;The Leopard.