Marsala (Anc. Lilybceum), a fortified seaport town at the W. extremity of Sicily, adjacent to Cape Boeo (anc. Promontorium Luy-bceum), in the province and 16 in. S. S. W. of the town of Trapani; pop. about 18,000. It contains a cathedral, several churches, and various monastic, educational, and charitable establishments. It exports corn, cattle, oil, salt, and soda, but chiefly wine. - The ancient city of Lilybaeum, of which Marsala occupies only the southern half, was founded by a colony of Carthaginians who escaped from the destruction of Motya by the elder Dionysius in 397 B. C. It soon prospered, and became the chief bulwark of the Carthaginian power in Sicily. In 276 Pyrrhus of Epirus made an unsuccessful attempt to capture it; and in 250 it was attacked by the Romans in the first Punic war with two consular armies and a formidable fleet. After several efforts to carry it by assault, the consuls converted the siege into a blockade, which was maintained for nearly ten years without accomplishing i object; nor did the Romans obtain possession of it until it was surrendered by the Carthaginians at the conclusion of the war, in part purchase of peace.
From this period the harbor of Lilvbamm became a principal station of the Roman fleet, and the city one of the great points of communication between Rome and Africa. The place continued prosperous till the 16th century; but from the period when the emperor Charles V. caused,its harbor to be blocked up with a mound in order to protect it from the attacks of the Barbary corsairs, it ceased to hold the first rank among'the maritime towns of W. Sicily, and gave place to Trapani. Few vestiges of the ancient city now remain. Numerous fragments of sculpture, however, vases, coins, etc, have been from time to time discovered, and some portions of an aqueduct are still standing. Marsala was Garibaldi's landing place in his expedition to Sicily in May, 1860, where he disembarked in presence of two Neapolitan war steamers.