What would it have been like to live in a city surrounded by walls? It is difficult for me to imagine living where the entire city was locked up for the night, much less guarded twenty-four seven. I cannot imagine traveling to a city and then being turned away, not allowed inside. In Maria Sybilla’s time the guards at the gates would check travelers’ papers, and those papers had to be in order for those gates to open. Not everyone was allowed in.
When I traveled to Frankfurt, I had hoped to gain a sense of size of the city back in the 1600s by where the walls were. Alas, there was only one small piece of the old wall left standing. I was shocked, however, at how short the wall is. The apartment buildings behind it are taller. (For some reason I thought the city’s walls would be much higher.)
Armed with notes I had made from old maps, I began walking around. Whenever I began to feel a bit lost, all I had to do was look for the tall steeple of the church called the Dom. I might have to walk to a cross street, but it never took long to find that tower and figure out where I was. It didn’t take long to understand how close everything must have been back then.
I was disappointed that there was so little of the city wall left. That comes, of course, from someone whose city was not totally destroyed by war. In fact those were just words without any real meaning until I entered the city museum and saw a model of the old city, and then in the next room saw a model of the city after WWII. Only one building was still intact! That had quite an impact on me, and it was awhile before I mentally shook myself and got back to my research.