Mannheim / Germany
With about 320,000 inhabitants, the university town of Mannheim is the second-largest city in Baden-Württemberg after Stuttgart. The former residence of the historic Electoral Palatinate still forms today the economic and cultural center of the European metro region Rhein-Neckar triangle. From its Rhineland-Palatinate neighbor town Ludwigshafen on the Rhine, Mannheim is separated only by the Rhine.
Metropolitan since 1900, Mannheim is still an important industrial and commercial center and an important traffic hub between Frankfurt and Stuttgart, including the second-largest marshalling railway station in Germany and one of the most important inland ports in Europe.
Some important inventions come from Mannheim: Here Karl Drais built the first wheel in 1817, the first automobile of Carl Benz rolled over the streets in 1886 and the first tractor followed in 1921.
The horseshoe-shaped inner city of Mannheim, between the Rhine and the Neckar, is grid-like in square blocks, they are called the "Mannheimer squares". The planning of this unique road network goes back to Elector Frederick IV of the Palatinate in the year 1600.
The inner city is crossed by two main axes. The Kurpfalzstraße, also known as the "wide street ", runs from the castle to the Neckar Gate. The main shopping street, the "Planken", it meets at the parade place. The parallel lines of the two main axes do not usually bear any names, instead the intervening squares are named for a combination of letter and number.
Mannheim has a wealth of attractions: the castle, the National Theater, the Wassertrum, the Parade Square, the Art Gallery, the Museum D 5 (Archeology and World Cultures), numerous churches and parks.