Marsa is located on the Marsa Creek, a body of water formed by the flow of water from wadis in high ground nearby to the sea. The creek includes the Grand Harbour which the town is based on. A port was first established at Marsa by the Phoenicians. Remains of Roman constructions have been found close to the town. The Arabs used the area as a port and since then has been named as Marsa, meaning harbour.
At the arrival of the Order of St John in Malta, a particular cultivated garden was among the few places observed. It is thought a foundry of the Order may have been located at Marsa. During the Great Siege of Malta of 1565, Marsa was used as a camp by troops of the Ottoman Empire. Following their defeat, Marsa became a barony containing a number of vineyards.
In the 17th century a historical museum, the Museo di San Giacomo, was located at Marsa. This was created when Giovanni Francesco Abela converted his house into a museum and was the first of its type on Malta. Many of its artefacts are now held at the National Museum of Archaeology in Malta's capital city Valletta.
During the French blockade of 1798-1800, Maltese insurgents built Marsa Battery and Jesuit Hill Battery in Marsa to encircle the French in the Grand Harbour. Both batteries were demolished after the end of the blockade.
A new port was constructed in the 1860s under the rule of the British Empire. It was intended that a town would be built at the site under the name Albert Town, named after Prince Albert. By 1890 the town had a population of over 600 people, but it was later abandoned. A new town at the site emerged in the 20th century, taking the name Marsa after the creek.
In July 2009 a plan to regenerate the harbour area was announced. This is intended to turn the site into a recreational area and is planned include the construction of a marina with space for 170 boats.
Marsa is home to the Malta Shipyards. In November 2014, the Malta Shipbuilding in Marsa was also the venue for both the 12th annual Junior Eurovision Song Contest and the Malta Eurovision Song Contest 2015.
Marsa also had one of the two power stations which provided most of the electricity to the Maltese Islands, until it began to be demolished in 2014. A new Marsa north distribution centre will be built instead of the former power station, in order to reinforce the island's power grid.
Marsa Race Track, a one-kilometre long horse racing track, was constructed in 1868 and remains in use.
Malta's postal administration MaltaPost has its head office in Qormi Road, Marsa. The General Post Office, Central Mail Room and Philatelic Bureau have been located in this complex since 1997.
The former Trade School in the area of Albert Town is used as a hosting facility for male refugees. Since conversion it has become a ghetto, and it is the spot of numerous crimes.Albert Town
Marsa is twinned with: Bridgwater, United Kingdom