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The “Planken” — Mannheim’s unique shopping experience

Online shopping is huge in Germany — but Germans still love their shopping miles. With the redevelopment of the “Planken”, Mannheim’s shopping mile cements it status as one of the best in the Southwest. Shop big brands, discover small boutiques, experience Mannheim’s culinary delights, and enjoy the view of the water tower — the “Planken” have it all!

The “Planken” in 1895. Picture taken from atop the water tower.
The “Planken” in 1895. Picture taken from atop the water tower.

Strolling around, shopping, discovering new things — since the mid-18th century, the “Planken” have been a people’s magnet. People from all of Southwest Germany flocked to the city of squares. Back then, it were the peasants and the pedlars as well as Mannheim's first department store that made business prosper. In the 1930s, the “Planken” were modernised but soon fell victim to World War II. After the war, they were rebuilt, and the “Wirtschaftswunder” soon transformed the “Planken” into the vibrant city centre we stilll know today. The “Planken” eventually became a pedestrian area when Mannheim hosted the “Bundesgartenschau” (Federal Garden Show) in 1975.

In Mannheim, you will find big, international brands alongside owner-managed stores with long-standing tradition; architecturally impressive shopping centres next to small, quaint shops in the backstreets; this inimitable mix attracts more and more visitors every year.

Ranging from inexpensive to luxurious, from unique designer shirts to nice dresses, the “Planken” have something for everyone.
Ranging from inexpensive to luxurious, from unique designer shirts to nice dresses, the “Planken” have something for everyone. © Daniel Lukac

On 6 April 2019, the new “Planken” will be handed over to the public, and the people of Mannheim will celebrate the redesign of their shopping mile.

After two years of construction, the pedestrian area is now a confidently stylish, clearly structured, and barrier-free place. Five kilometres of shop windows, a combined sales area of 220,000 square metres, hundreds of international and regional brands, around 150 restaurants, cafés, ice cream parlours, and takeaways, plus a sensational 2,000 hours of sunshine, make shopping in Mannheim a memorable experience. There are things you can only experience in Mannheim, for instance, savouring spaghetti ice cream freshly made by its inventor Dario Fontanella

This unique blend of restaurants and retailers consistently secures Mannheim top positions in nationwide rankings. 

The “Planken” stretch from the parade square to the water tower.
The “Planken” stretch from the parade square to the water tower. © Daniel Lukac

You probably wonder why this shopping mile is called the “Planken” (engl. planks). The name dates back to the 17th century and denotes the palisades in front of the moat that separated the Friedrichsburg citadel from the rest of the city. The moat and the citadel do not exist anymore, but they did give way to an impressive visual axis from the parade square down to the historical water tower on the “Friedrichsplatz” (Frederick’s Square), one of Germany’s most beautiful art nouveau sites.

Fancy a cup of fine coffee or exciting cultural activities after all the shopping? Just a stone’s throw away from the “Planken”, you will find many small cafés and restaurants along the arcades around the Friedrichsplatz as well as the impressive, new building of the “Kunsthalle Mannheim” with its famous collection of modern and contemporary art. 

The past, present and future of shopping condensed in one street, creating a one-of-a-kind experience — welcome to the new "Planken"!

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