Whatever the season, Mannheim's huge variety of things to do and see often leaves you spoiled for choice.
Six wings, hundreds of windows and probably the most beautiful university in Germany are located in the middle of Mannheim. More specifically, in the Mannheim Baroque Palace, the magnificent building on the edge of the city's central squares. Even if it is "only" the second largest baroque palace in Europe after Versailles – according to legend, the architects of the Mannheim palace deliberately planned exactly one more window than its French neighbour. Today, the palace museum transports you back to centuries past. The knight's hall, with its magnificent ceiling paintings and gleaming chandeliers, dazzles and inspires in equal measure. Where once powdered Electors danced with Grand Duchesses and Mozart himself played the piano, history is now made tangible.
"Little Istanbul", as the district west of the "Marktplatz" is known locally to Mannheimers, is also a feast for the senses. There, "Saz" music pours through the door of a hairdressing salon. In the shop windows next door, opulent bridal gowns are elegantly displayed. One door further on, passers-by are enticed by fresh pide, baklava and piles of delicious treats. This unique shopping district is as colourful as its international inhabitants and the neighbouring district of Jungbusch.
An anchorage next to the port of Mannheim for musicians and creative people. Lively and dynamic, this trend district is Mannheim's mini-Berlin. Here, between industrial romanticism and harbour backdrops, beats the creative heart of the city. Check it out in the evening and enjoy a pizza at Gianni's in Beilstraße or a drink in "Hagestolz".
While on the subject of harbours, how about taking a boat tour through Germany's largest inland port in terms of area? Along the shores of the industrial and commercial port of Mannheim, world-famous companies sit cheek by jowl with chic start-ups, Wilhelminian buildings and architectural treasures of the New Objectivity. Mannheim has always been a city of contrasts.
Another must, not only for architecture fans, is the "wonder of Mannheim", the multi-use hall in Herzogenriedpark. The world's largest cantilevered wood-lattice-shell construction is an impressive sight from any angle. Light, bright and wonderfully curvy, it was built by the widely respected architects Frei Otto, Carlfried Mutschler and Joachim Langner. In the spirit of Frei Otto, this bold listed building continues to be a focal point for creative thought, research, development, invention and daring. Workshops, project days and lectures are held here at regular intervals.
There is plenty to discover 365 days a year in Mannheim's Luisenpark, the big sister of the Herzogenriedpark and a green oasis in the heart of the city. Here, Mannheim residents and visitors alike meet for a picnic, to pilot a Gondoletta or admire penguins, flamingos and the park's many storks.
Taking some refreshment in the Chinese teahouse should definitely be on your list of things to do. The largest of its kind in Europe and one of the few outside of China, the teahouse offers over 30 different teas as well as Chinese dumplings that are simply too good to miss. Another tip: During January and February, the winter lights lend the park a colourful glow after sunset and invite you into a unique, dreamlike parallel world.
Immediately next to the Luisenpark is a chance to get a real perspective on your surroundings. The telecommunications tower on the banks of the Neckar is not only one of Mannheim's most striking landmarks. It is also home to one of the highest revolving restaurants in Germany. There is no better place to enjoy the sunset while allowing your gaze to wander across the Rhine plain to the forests of the Odenwald in the east and the Palatinate in the west.
If you feel a yearning for nature, you don't have far to go. A stroll on the island "Reißinsel" will do wonders for body and soul, as the entrancing alluvial forests of the last untouched bow in Rhine invite you to linger and dream. Breathe slowly and deeply while listening to the songs of the more than 50 bird species that live here - simply wonderful.
Whatever else you see and do in the city, no visit to Mannheim is complete without a picture of our most famous landmark. Located on the elegant Friedrichsplatz, the largest contiguous art nouveau complex in Germany, the water tower "Wasserturm" sits in dignified splendour at the top of the "Planken" shopping district. Take a moment to marvel at the brightly lit fountains at the foot of the tower at dusk and you can't help but feel affection for the City of Squares.