Castles. I’ve always wanted to see a castle. I can remember back as a child, long before the days of me joining the ranks of the capsuleers, hearing stories of the glory days on the Gallente Prime of old, back in the days of the Age of Rouvenor. Gallant knights out to rescue the Damsel. Lords reigning over a kingdom. And above all else, the castles. Grand structures rising above the countryside, a symbol of the wealth and power of the kings of old. I did a lot of research on castles when I was younger, learning that they were almost always surrounded by towns, filled with festivities and traders and people of all sorts. Castles were not just symbols for the king, but also the center of commerce and the people of the kingdom.
What did all of this have to do with modern day New Eden, where castles are relegated to the dustbins of history? Precious little, at least until I visited Port Maphante. Tucked away in Garisas, stood a veritable castle surrounded by a thriving trading town. If someone had asked my younger self to imagine a modern day castle setting, it would have appeared remarkably similar to the one in front of me as I came out of warp. From the darkness of space, a bustling modern day castle complex zoomed into view that would put many castles from the days of old to shame. The analogy to the olden days was only reinforced in my head as Aura brought up the appropriate information:
Maphante is a bustling trader’s hub which has long been a thorn in the side of the feudal lords in Araz. For the longest time the presence of nobility was virtually non-existent in this backwater solarsystem. Four generations ago, the Emperor nominated the Maphante family to ‘clean up the place’ in the name of the Empire. Over a hundred years later the situation has gotten worse if anything.
The current Lord of Garisas, Baron Bartezo Maphante, is not only rumored to be a criminal and a cut-throat, but also has little control over the powerful merchant guilds which reside in Maphante city. Some of these guilds have even stronger ties to the infamous Blood Raider pirate organization than the Empire, as evident by the heavy Blood Raider presense in their part of the port called the crypt.
And the Amarr wreck a childhood fantasy as only they can do. To be fair, of course, the idealized castles that I often dreamed of in my youth were nothing like the castles in reality; crime and bribery were rampant, disease often flourished unchecked, the streets were dirty and crowded… hmm, maybe this places was closer to a castle analogy than I originally thought. Whatever the surrounding circumstances of Port Maphante, however, it was clearly successful. A full bustling trade complex that I often don’t see outside of Jita. Extensive merchant quarters could be found clustered off to one side, and the complex even had it’s own arena for entertainment purposes. This seemed less like an outpost and more like a full-fledged community.
Near the entrance point of the complex, a drydock scrambled furiously to add another vessel to the local merchant marine fleet. Far back from the entrance, fittingly, sat the Baron’s palace, overseeing the entire hub of activity. It was a traditional Amarr palace complex, and very similar in design to space-bound Amarr cathedrals. Still, I had trouble imagining the traditional Amarr chants playing in the castle. Rather, I imagined traveling minstrels entertaining the castle lords and ladies. I was surprised to see, however, that rather than sitting back in the palace, that the Baron was in fact amidst the complex, sitting in a small Omen. He was readily identifiable by Legacy‘s sensors. Apparently local government had a knack for the democratic (even if he’s apparently quite the scoundrel).
Perhaps the most unique aspect of Port Maphante lay in its acceleration gate. Now, as a member of the capsuleer community for nigh on 3 years now, I can safely say that I have seen hundreds, if not thousands of acceleration gates in my days. I have never seen one that looks like this. The basic superstructure of the gates appeared intact, but the local denizens appeared to have attached a number of rings to the structure. Aura couldn’t tell me what the rings were for, and my analysis of Legacy‘s sensor data yielded precious few clues. Were they there for show? Or were they an enhancement? I honestly had no idea. And given the fact that the acceleration complex appeared aligned toward a local Blood Raiders post, I had precious little desire to ascertain the effects of the enhancements first hand. Not yet, anyway.
I eventually had to make my way again. The locals were clearly curious about a Drake-class vessel that seemed to have little interest in trading with them, and I wasn’t particularly in the mood to explain to them my fascination with this place. Something tells me that they wouldn’t understand or appreciate how this place reminded me of being a little boy, and my dreams of castles. As I swung the Drake towards my exit alignment, however, I knew that I had finally found a castle in the sky.
- Attraction: Port Maphante
- System: Garisas
- Security Rating: 0.5
- Region: Kador
- Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -4.5 in security status, or -5 standing with the Amarr, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.
- Additional Notes: This also serves as an Amarr COSMOS site.