Mannheim: Fountain outside the electoral palace, built 1720-1760at the market

Fountain outside the Electoral Palace in Mannheim

Mannheim: trimming asparagus at the market

Trimming asparagus at the market

Mannheim: water sculptures in the park around the water tower

Water sculptures in the park around the water tower in Mannheim

Mannheim: Lots to see and do - from museums to outdoor activities

In Southwest Germany, Stuttgart is the cradle of the German auto industry and Frankfurt is a bustling economic center. And just 35 minutes from each of these cities by the high-speed ICE train, lies less-visited Mannheim. At the confluence of the Rhine and Neckar Rivers, this is the region’s second largest city, and offers plenty to see and do. Think museums, shopping, rockin’ music scene and a history of innovation. Its unique grid pattern of its downtown streets gave Mannheim the nickname, “The Quadrate City.” Then there’s that small invention known as the car.

It’s here that Karl and Bertha Benz produced industrial engines and the first car was ever driven back in 1885. Today, you can drive along the Bertha Benz Memorial Route and discover the original scenes of that first long distance journey. You can see this thrust toward modern innovation on display at Mannheim’s Technoseum, the State Museum of Technology and Work. This is one of the three major art museums in all of Germany, and exhibits over 200 years of social history. With its experimental stations of science and technology, you’ll take an interactive journey through recent time.

But not all is mechanics here. The Pop Academy Baden-Wuerttemberg is a university institution for the music industry. Offering Bachelor degrees in both music business and pop design, the school implements numerous projects for national and international context. You can hear the intellectual influence in the town’s clubs and bars. Continuing with the avant-garde, the National Theater offers ballet and opera – often with a twist.

Mannheim also surprises with a great diversity of sights and experiences. Beautiful art nouveau complexes sit side-by-side impressive baroque buildings, bustling squares, green spaces, churches and palaces. See the second-largest baroque palace in all of Europe, the Mannheim Palace. What was once the former home of the rulers of the Palatinate, today the ornate building houses the local university. The Wasserturm, or “water tower,” is one of the city’s most famous landmarks. The tower is 60 meters high with a diameter of 19 meters and once supplied the city with a constant water supply.

The modern station is just minutes from the city center (naturally) and connects you Cologne in 90 minutes, Berlin in five hours and even Paris in just three hours. When you’ve seen all that Mannheim has to offers, hop in a rental car and drive part of the 620-mile long Burgenstrasse, or Castle Road, which extends all the way to Prague.

Come to Mannheim, then make like the Benz’s and take off for a ride into the Rhineland sunset

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