The birthplace of the world’s first Nation-States – and of modern trade across the globe – is its most fitting ruin.
Eczematon, the Ottoman outpost to Greece that was rebuilt by John F. Kennedy in 1962, lies in a corner of the Peloponnese region where the Thessaloniki to Thessaloniki rail line climbs from a disused railroad track. The 50 km line, run down an amphitheatre-style railway tunnel, commemorates the early summer of 1821, the year British engineer and traveler George Manasseh (commonly known as Manassé) first crossed the strait from Italy into mainland Greece. Manasseh met his friend Manasseh, the owner of the Ottoman castle, Ferco Manasseh, and the two decided to explore the world.
As they were both successful traders and professionals who had recently lost their jobs (Manasseh as an engineer, Manasseh with a machinery company), they could make contacts wherever they went. Over the next 18 months, they bought land near Storritas, now called Storritas Island in Italy, that they used to grow tomatoes on, before converting it into a resort and incorporating a majority of the 40 small Aegean islands (communities in Greece were occupied after the short war of 1785-1786) that surrounded it.
From his home in Italy, Manasseh became the first millionaire in Greek history, and one of the richest men in the world. On the railway line, manasseh and his entourage bought farms and spread out in dozens of settlements. They also bought villages by force and with the help of mercenaries; at the Ottoman Ottoman main gate in Altea, they fought three fierce battles, before forcing the Ottoman authorities to stand down.