Along the Rhine
The Rhine is Germany's mightiest river and already very broad in Mannheim. While ships are quickly drifting down or cumbersomely fighting their way up the stream, the best you can do is going for a walk along the banks of the Rhine. The so-called Rheinauen (literally Rhine Meadows, although there are more trees than meadows) are a wonderful stretch of wilderness inside this big city. Lots of green, a nature protection area which is home to many rare birds and every now and then some great views of the ships passing by - it's a place to fall in love with. We started our walk in Lindenhof at the Rheinterrassen restaurant, a great place for some food or a cake - try their rhubarb cake! From there, it's a pleasant 4km walk up to the Strandbad, a bathing area with meadows to relax and some facilities. However, bathing is quite dangerous as the Rhine's current is very strong here. As the water was still too cold anyway, we just sat down on the pebbly beach and enjoyed the views. We didn't have time to visit the Reißinsel, which, according to my friend, is one of the most beautiful places of the city. So I suppose it's reason enough to come back for yet another afternoon!
Park behind the water tower
The wonderfully designed park behind the water tower is a great place to meet, hang out, watch people and cool your feet in the fountain. Bruno Schmitz designed the park with its two opposing archways and a big fountain in the middle. In summertime, the park is full of people enjoying the sun there, while in winter, Mannheim's Christmas market takes place here.
Despite the fact that nearly everybody does it, the police are not too keen on people playing in the water or relaxing on the lawns. Apparently, they come checking every half an hour or so if everybody's behaving well - it might not be a good idea to be swimming in the fountain just then! ;)
In most of downtown Mannheim, 143 square blocks of it to be exact, there are no street names but rather block numbers.
When you stand with your back to the castle (which is not a bad idea anyway because the castle is being renovated and is covered with scaffolding at the moment) the first block on your left is A1 and the first block on your right is L1.
Going off to your left are the blocks A2, A3, A4 (where the Jesuit Church is) and A5. Going off to your right are L2, L3 (where the tax office is), L4, l5 etc.
If you walk straight ahead away from the castle, which is roughly north-northeast, you pass blocks B1, C1, D1 etc. up to K1 on the left, and M1, N1, O1 (which is Paradeplatz), P1 etc. up to U1 on the right.
The house numbers go around each block starting at the corner which is closest to the castle. In the A-K blocks the numbers go around each block in a counter-clockwise direction, and in the L-U blocks they go around clockwise.
The address of a building in this area usually consists of the block number, a comma and the house number. The Adult Education Center for instance is at R3, 13.
Block N1 consists of a large modern building called the City House (Stadthaus). It houses the city library, seen here, as well as numerous offices, shops, restaurants and cafés.
On the other side, facing Paradeplatz, there is also a Tower Café which is open from 4 p.m. to midnight.
This Jesuit Church is said to be the largest church in Mannheim and the most important baroque church in southwest Germany. It was built between 1733 and 1760.
When I was there, renovation work was in progress inside the church, particularly the altar. Click on the link below for a photo of how the altar looks when it is not being worked on.
Mannheim University & Castle
The University of Mannheim has a reputation of being particularly strong in Business Administration, Economics and Social Sciences. It has about 10.000 students, over 15 percent of whom come from outside of Germany.
Most university facilities are located in Mannheim Castle, one wing of which is shown in the photo. I chose this particular wing to take a picture of because it is just about the only one that is not covered with scaffolding this year. A lot of renovation work is going on at the moment, especially on the front side of the castle.
- Study Abroad
The National Theater in Mannheim was founded in 1779, but the current building is a modern one that was built from 1955 to 1957.
It has a large glassed-in foyer on the ground floor, with stairs going up to the large and small performance halls on the right and left. The acoustics are fine, and you have an unobstructed view from every seat. In addition to opera, they also do operettas, musicals, ballet and spoken theater.
I've seen a mixed bag of opera productions here, from a grim version of Verdi's Troubador to a very funny staging of Mozart's Don Giovanni, complete with graphs and pie-charts projected onto the stage while Leporello sang his famous register aria listing the numbers of women his master had seduced in various European countries. (The winner of course is Spain with one thousand and three.)
Since Mannheim is only 37 minutes by ICE-train from Frankfurt, it's no trouble to get there and back for an opera performance.
- Theater Travel
Only when it's sunny
The highest building in Mannheim is the telekom tower, 212 meters tall. There is a viewing platform up there and above it a rotating restaurant.
We went up to the restaurant on a sunny winter day. The tower is right next to Luisenpark and there is a nice -sized car park. The entrance is outside the park gates and is not very appealing. you have to walk down a long, concrete hallway to reach the lift, where you have to wait. You are not allowed to go up on your own and the fare is 5 Euro. I can understand it's expensive to operate the lift, but still this is quite a lot.
The restaurant is also pretty expensive and their coffee and tea are average at best. The cakes, however, were excellent and for 3,70 Euro we got a large piece.
But nobody goes up there just to eat or drink, it's the view which is wonderful. It takes about one hour for the restaurant to turn around once, there are signs near the big windows telling you what it is you see. We stayed a long time and watched the sunset - this was great.
But don't bother to go up there on a rainy day, it is not worth the money.
And another point: there are no toilets down in the hallway, only up at the platform. A handicapped woman rode down with us and then looked for the toilet, she would have had to go up again and possibly pay again.
- Family Travel
Explore Extraordinary Luisenpark
Tucked away in downtown Mannheim, Luisenpark is a sanctuary for nature lovers, an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city center. Acres of lush greenery and beautifully groomed gardens, relaxing rides in pretty yellow gondolas, miniature golf, a Chinese tea house, a small zoo and aquarium, a butterfly sanctuary and so much more await visitors. There are also plenty of play areas for children. We spent the entire day here and I feel as though we only saw half of what the park had to offer. We also really liked the food available at the various kiosks! Reasonably priced and delicious!
I included tons of photos on my blog, here: http://address-the-world.blogspot.com/2012/04/luisenpark.html
The park website (link below) has an excellent map that shows all the entrances (there are many) and attractions. Be sure to also check there for information about special events at the park.
Admission is 6 euro for adults. Children under 6 are free.
Open daily from 9am-dusk.
- Family Travel
Luisenpark - not only for women called Luise
Luisenpark is a large and marvelous city park in Mannheim where you can easily spend an entire vacation without getting bored. We spent an entire summer's day there and although we felt refreshed and relaxed at the end of our visit, we had the feeling that we hadn't even seen half of the park and promised ourselves to return soon.
The park was built from 1892 through 1903 and has been expanded ever since. Although it was named after Luise, it's a park for everybody, not just for women or women called Luise!! The park boasts a number of attractions, such as a Chinese garden with tea-house, a rose garden, and an arboretum, where you can admire all sorts of exotic plants, such palm-trees, ferns, cacti and Venus fly traps. You'll also find a small zoo, a butterfly farm, an aviary, a large playground and leisure meadow, several cafés and restaurants, an open-air stage for concerts, operas, musical shows and plays. And if all this is not enough excitement yet, you may take a trip to the rotating restaurant at the top of the telecommiunications tower. The restaurant is located at an altitude of 205 m and offers a wonderful view of the park and the city of Mannheim. Usually, there's one or the other event going on in Luisenpark all year round, including guided tours.
If you prefer to spend your time away from the crowds, you'll find many quiet spots in the park as well where you can sit and have a picnic, sunbathe, smell the roses, or take long walks. If you enjoy being around water, there's a large lake for relaxing tours in small boats.
All this may sound like paradise and indeed it comes close. But even in paradise there's no such thing as a free lunch, and although you may certainly bring your own free lunch, you will need to pay an admission fee for the park. It's worth it because the park is really well kept-up, practically garbage free and full of laid-back and friendly people, in other words: a safe haven for the whole family, far away from the big bad city streets. Pets, including the most well-behaved Fido, are not allowed with the exception of guide-dogs. You'll have plenty of chances though to enjoy the freely roaming animals that populate Luisenpark.
Opening hours: daily, starting at 9:00
Closing hours: at 21:00 in the summer, the rest of the year at sundown .
Admission fee: adults € 6 (day pass), children € 3 (day pass)
- Family Travel
The excitement of industrialization
(Update: April 2009: new website added; tip & text are from February 2007)
If you like special museums with educational value, then I highly recommend Landesmuseum für Arbeit und Technik (State Museum for Technology and Labour Development) in Mannheim.
In a specially designed (barrier free) building next to Luisenpark’s southern entrance you can immerse into the world of industrialization since 18th century, with emphasis on the local technologies.
No place in Germany can be better for such a museum than Mannheim, as it was a cradle for very important developments such as cars (Carl Benz), the draisine or first bicycle (Freiherr von Drais) and tractors (Heinrich Lanz; John Deere).
The 5 floors do have an interesting concept for moving on – you best start in the upper floor and make your way down on stairs, in elevators or on the ramp, which encompasses the exhibition levels.
The collections cover science and technology development from 18th century on, energy and textile technology, printing, information technology and many more.
It is a hands-on museum for anyone – not only for the kids. I could spend hours there and always come back for more. You can make paper for example, just like in the old days or feel how printers must have felt (sour muscles) after pressing and turning the wheels and pedals.
The museum employees are spread around in the buildings, answer all questions, help with the machines and are really very much friendly and highly knowledgeable !
The museum hosts very exciting special exhibitions, like Adventure Space (until April 9, 2007), and now, as Mannheim celebrates 400 years in 2007, three special exhibitions about Mannheim’s role over these years did develop.
Opening hours:: Tu, Thu, Fr: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Wed: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sat, Sun: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.;
Admission fee: adults: 3 €, kids: 2 €.
- Family Travel
- Museum Visits
- Road Trip
Relax by the Fountains at the Wasserturm
The Wasserturm (Water Tower) in the center of downtown is Mannheim's main attraction, and the fountains, statues and grounds surrounding it provide the perfect place to relax after a day of shopping. It would also be a great place for a picnic lunch, though there are tons of great restaurants nearby as well.
- Family Travel
Check Out What's Playing Downtown at the Cineplex
I can't believe I've lived in Mannheim for almost a year and only just discovered that the Cineplex downtown plays a few movies each week in English. English-speaking vacationers/military families should definitely take advantage of this modern, centrally located theater. I've been twice so far, and both experiences were great. The website below is fantastic -- simply select Mannheim as your city, and you can browse the week's schedule and purchase tickets in advance online. Tickets are around 10 euro.
The Cineplex is also located near several stass stops which can be located on this google map: http://maps.google.de/maps?hl=de&q=mannheim+cineplex&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&biw=1440&bih=760&wrapid=tlif131135663159910&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl
- Family Travel
Picnic at nearby Tivoli Park
Tivoli Park is a smallish but beautiful little park located just outside of Mannheim in Veirnheim. It features creative playgrounds, a volleyball court, a bike path, gorgeous scenery and a variety of scultpures and artwork. It's the perfect destination for a picnic on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and fun for the whole family. No admission fees.
- Hiking and Walking
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Beautiful Luisenpark – marvellous relaxing
(Update: April 2009: new fees added; tip & text are from February 2007)
Being the biggest park of the city, Luisenpark is Mannheim’s green lung and an attraction not only for the locals. It was created in 1903 and enlarged on the occasion of 1975 “Bundesgartenschau” (something like a German horticulture show, held every 2 years in another city). It is very easy to spend a whole day in here, given the many different attractions and kids amusements or playgrounds.
On the website below you can find descriptions to all the different attractions, including a printable map to guide you through the park. Make sure you click on the “legend” to learn more about each of the single attractions. Unfortunately, it is only in German, so I’ll try to give a short overview of what will await you, as it is a place that should not be missed.
A huge lake stretches through the park, where you can hop into the bright yellow gondolas (photo 2 and the one on my intro page) for some relaxed boating.
A big greenhouse invites you for a stroll around nearly 350 different exotic and tropic plant species and watch several reptiles, which live here (aquariums and piranhas included).
A collection of sea lily ponds enchant you with their lovely aroma, and stones are dancing next to them (a sculpture, see photo 1).
Humboldt penguins and storks live here, and it is fun to watch their feeding or listen to the sssshhhhhhh, when the storks spread their wings upon arrival or leaving.
A Chinese Teahouse and garden invites to tea celebrations and meditation and is a pure joy for the eye.
Kids can play on countless playgrounds, specially designed for nearly every age and every adventure level.
So much more to see, and maybe I’ll describe some of the attractions in “local customs” one day. Ah, lol, now, early February, I can hardly wait to go for a visit in spring :-)
Opening hours:: daily 9 a.m. to sunset;
Admission fee: adults: 5 €, kids (age 6-15): 2,50 €.
(Update April 14, 2009: I have added the new prices. Tip and text are from February 2007)
- Road Trip
- Family Travel