What Travel Writers Say

Marvelous Mannheim

© By Adam Southwood

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

  Mannheim, with a population of 327,318, is the second-largest city in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg after the capital, Stuttgart, situated at the confluence of Rhine and Neckar rivers. The economic and cultural center of the metropolitan Rhein-Neckar region, it is unique among German cities, laid out in a grid pattern called Quadrate or squares, like many North American cities. The main route through the squares leads to an enormous 18th-century palace.
     Carl Benz's first car appeared on the streets of Mannheim in 1886. He produced a lightweight, three-wheeled vehicle powered by a single cylinder gasoline-fueled engine, subsequently regarded as the original motor car. Accordingly, Mannheim is both start and finish of the Bertha Benz Memorial Route. Other Mannheim inventions include the Lanz Bulldog, a popular tractor with a rugged, simple diesel engine, introduced in 1921 and the world's first rocket plane built in 1929 by Julius Hatry.
     Unfortunately a key Nazi industrial center, Mannheim was heavily damaged by U.S. and British bombing in WWII. The city was occupied by the U.S. Army on March 29, 1945, with a large American military presence located in the Mannheim area ever since.
     In 2007, Mannheim celebrated its 400th birthday with a series of cultural and other events spread over the entire year.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons  Photo by Wikimedia Commons  Photo by Wikimedia Commons

     Daimler AD, successor to the Karl Benz automobile manufacturing company begun in Mannheim, has a large presence in Mannheim, assembling both diesel engines and buses. The Swiss Roche Diagnostic group located its division headquarters in Mannheim and the city hosts many other large international factories and offices.
     Local public transport includes eleven tram lines and numerous bus lines. And if outsiders want to see an opera or a musical, they attend the Mannheim National Theater or the Rosengarten, the famous festival hall. For clothes and shoes, Germans outside the city, take the S-Bahn, an inter-urban train, which delivers them speedily to Mannheim shopping.
     The symbol of the city is der Wasserturm, the water tower, built from 1886 to 1889. A young architect, Gustav Halmhuber, designed the 60 meter-high water reservoir, crowned by a statue of the Greek god, Amphitrite. It acts not only as a tall symbol but also as a directional sign as it can be seen throughout the city, stretching like a chess board from the Neckar River to the Mannheim Castle. The heart of Mannheim is located at the Paradeplatz or parade square where two shopping streets, Planken and Breite Strasse intersect. A restored fountain with the bronze pyramid designed by the sculptor, Gabriel de Grupello, dominates the center.
     The Market Square is only a few meters away from the Stadthaus. There is a fountain in the middle which represents the rivers Rhine and Neckar, mercury and the sun. It originally stood in Heidelberg and was donated to the city by Prince Elector Carl Theodor. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays there is a large fruit, vegetable and flower market in the square. Close by is the Turkish quarter where shops, bakeries, cafés, restaurants and hair stylists are found. Café Istanbul, bordering the Market Square, is one of the most popular eateries.
     Mannheim Castle, residence of the Princes Electors, was built between 1720 and 1760 under Carl Philipp and Carl Theodor. The largest baroque castle in Germany, its 400 rooms are used by the University of Mannheim. Worth viewing also are the elegantly decorated Knights Hall with its parquet inlay flooring, elaborate ceiling frescoes by Cosmas Damian Asam and the Trabantensaal with its antique furniture exhibition.
     With all of the attributes listed above, Mannheim keeps one delightfully busy with plenty of opportunities to relax along the way.

Adam Southwood writes for Canadian, U.S. and European magazines and newspapers. He is a graduate of both McMaster University in Hamilton and UWO in London with an interest in culture and history. He has produced several educational programs for TV.

Photo Credits
Wikimedia Commons

If you go
Mannheim, Germany
as seen on
Baden-Wurttemberg Tourism: http://www.baden-baden.de/en/tourism/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mannheim,_Germany
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Mannheim

What's happening, money, distance, time?
Media Guide: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/

Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/


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