We had one day to explore Frankfurt and decided to take a double decker bus tour, having experienced a lot of success with those previously. We find that when we first arrive in a city new to us, it’s a good way to discover places we might like to explore or visit more thoroughly. The best one we’ve ever been on was the one in Barcelona.
It took us a while but eventually we found our way from our airport haven to the main train station in Frankfurt. So so busy with people going every which way but oh the sights to see….from the way people were dressed to the Italian food vendors to the architecture….awesome!
One of the things I’d come across which I wanted to see was the Frankfurt Judengasse Museum (Jew’s Lane), Europe’s 2nd oldest Jewish ghetto and the cemetery beside it. We’d seen where it was from the bus and walked there after the tour.
It was discovered by accident in 1987 when the City of Frankfurt wanted to build a new public utility company. The archeological finds were made into this museum which was redesigned in 2016.
“Europe’s first Jewish ghetto was created in 1460 and more than 6,000 people lived there at various times. The museum brings this story back to life. The museum reminds visitors of the deportation of Frankfurt’s Jews while also bringing the second oldest Jewish cemetery north of the Alps accesible via the museum, into view.”
The Jews were required to live there on and off through the ages and suffered fires, pogroms, all kinds of unfair treatment. Many people died there. In creating the museum, they excavated actual people’s homes that we could walk through, and showed a movie describing what life was like, the business, finances, and culture that the Jews brought to the city. A cemetery grew alongside with the oldest head stone, inscribed with Hebrew writing, dating back to 1272!!! We went to see it. Mike was required to wear a head covering and we were given a key and told to lock the gate after we entered. There have been some problems there because there was also a permanent police presence there.
`“In 1939, during the Nazi regime, the Jewish community was required to sell their cemeteries along with their other properties to the City of Frankfurt….the plan was to level the cemetery, which began in 1943, during WW2. The demolition was halted due to bombings and debris and rubble were dumped there instead. As a result, 2,500 tombstones remained fully preserved along with thousands of shattered tombstone fragments…..The cemetery was returned to the Jewish community after the end of Nazi rule.”
“Many of the gravestones in the cemetery bear images such as a rabbit, a windmill, or a fish trap. The houses in the Judengasse didn’t have house numbers. The marks on the gravestones show in which house on the Judengasse the deceased lived.”
There is a wall around the cemetery and embedded in the wall are small name blocks commemorating the nearly 12,000 victims of the “Nazi mass murder of European Jews” and where they died (Auschwitz, Treblika, Bergen-Belsen and so on.) Very sobering and moving but also one of the most beautifully serene cemeteries I have been to visit.
You may be asking why I wanted to see this and include so much information and so many pictures. My maternal grandfather died in a concentration camp in Holland (called Vucht). He (and my grandmother) were caught protecting two of my mother’s Jewish nursing colleagues during the war…my grandmother was later released but not my grandfather. I have always had an intense fascination for what happened to the Jews during this period of time.
From Mike’s Journal:
Our day in Frankfurt was interesting… took a double decker bus tour, then walked to a Museum of the Jewish Quarter. It detailed the joys, sorrows, suffering & achievements of the local population. Then toured the grave yard that the nazis had destroyed… I am left with a great sadness at how, over the centuries, people have so poorly treated each other … still have learned nothing.
My view of history as detailed by Steve Cutts-
Our day continued…..In a rare (some/most would preface that with extremely) stroke of foresight & brilliance, I put my ‘keys’ AirTag in the bottom of the pack. That is how I knew it was in Denver and then late yesterday afternoon as we were riding the train back to the hotel, I saw it was at the Frankfurt airport. Grabbed the documentation from our hotel room – airport hotels can be so convenient- and headed to the baggage claims area. The day before we dealt with a lady who was so pleasantly helpful. So I was shocked when the baggage tracking guy was being a jerk… tried to tell me that the bag was still on the tarmac until I told him that the plane had arrived 4+ hours earlier AND the AirTag input in it showed it was definitely inside their lost baggage office. Only then, he started to be helpful. Well, bag recovered but, no wonder I’m nervous about trusting Lufthansa tomorrow on our flight to Seville. Going to look into shipping our bags home when the time comes.
The flight to Sevilla was uneventful…on time…AND…our packs arrived. Squeezed onto the airport bus which happened to be free on this day-I still don’t know why. The hotel had sent instructions about where to get off the bus and by good fortune, we chose the right stop. Started walking but became distracted by our thirst and by all the sidewalk cafes. Stopped for a sangria and a beer, some grilled artichokes and a couple of small tacos and our energy levels were restored.
Found our hotel, checked in, showered, and promptly fell asleep for 4 hours!!! We both woke up with a strong need to explore, find the cathedral which is the starting point of the VDLP, find a place for dinner, and explore Trianna where there is a backpackers hostel. We did all those things. Walked over the Trianna bridge, watched the sun set over the Oro tower, sat in a taverna and had dinner, watched the rowers and kayakers on the river and saw the bridge lights come on.
Next day, another double decker bus tour around Sevilla but it was soooo hot!!!! Lots of walking and planning and shopping for some wide-brimmed hats to protect us from the sun and simply enjoying being in Sevilla. It’s a wonderful city….I think we should move here lol.
TOMORROW, THE FIST DAY OF OUR PILGRIMMAGE BEGINS……