Since my research in Germany began with the city of Frankfurt am Main in the 1600's, I wanted to try and get a feel for the size of the old city that for centuries had been enclosed within stone walls.
Frankfurt today is a large, busy city with a skyline of shiny steel skyscrapers. It is the second largest metropolitan area in Germany. A far different size city from the one I was seeking.
I decided that perhaps seeing what was left of the old city wall would help. I knew there was a portion of it still standing; I had seen a sign pointing in its direction.
At first I didn't even see the wall. It was set back, bordering a small, scruffy-looking area full of weeds and trash. A splash of color–of all things, graffiti, caught my eye. Part of the wall had been opened up to allow traffic through. It continued on the other side of the street as a back wall for what looked like a preschool playground. Tall apartment buildings crowded in, overwhelming the little stone wall.
Not much left. Very disappointing.
The city hurried through and around it scarcely acknowledging its existence. A small plaque lets any visitors who might come this way know that this stone wall is all that is left of the grand, protective city wall from the 12th century.