Located on the tiny island of San Pantaleo, ancient Mozia (also known as Motya or Mothia) was one of the Mediterranean's most important Phoenician settlements. Established in the 8th century BC and coveted for its strategic position, Mozia is today the world's best-preserved Phoenician site.
The entire island was bought by the ornithologist and amateur archaeologist Joseph Whitaker (1850–1936) in the early 20th century and bequeathed to the Joseph Whitaker Foundation by his daughter Delia on her death in 1971. Joseph, who was a member of an English family that gained great wealth from the Marsala trade, built a villa here and spent decades excavating the island and assembling a unique collection of Phoenician artefacts, many of which are now on display in the Museo Whitaker that bears his name.
The fields around the museum are strewn with ruins from the ancient Phoenician settlement. Visitors can wander around the island to explore these, following a network of trails punctuated with helpful maps and information displays. Excavations include the ancient port and dry dock, where you can see the start of a Phoenician road – now approximately 1m underwater – that once linked San Pantaleo with the mainland. There's also a bar-cafe serving drinks and snacks.