Since antiquity, the harbours of the Mediterranean have exerted a fascination over travellers and cultural researchers. Visiting them today, however, one is presented with no more than a shadow – part run down, part picturesque – of their former grandeur and importance. These ports once lay at the heart of the first trans-Mediterranean phase of globalization, the central axis of which shifted to the Atlantic in the sixteenth century. Nowadays, the turnovers of even the larger Mediterranean harbours, such as Istanbul or Marseille, are easily outstripped by the container terminals in East Asia and the Gulf. The Mediterranean serves as a passageway for around one third of all global transports of crude oil and natural gas. Its harbours are largely the destinations of cruise liners and ferries, just as its airports are the starting and end-points for beach holidays and city breaks.
more from Claus Leggewie at Eurozine here.