I know – I’m leaning a bit far out of my window here in making such a bold statement. But I think I’m qualified to make it too – after all, I do live in Berlin. Mannheim, it‘s a bit like Berlin scaled down. There’s plenty of splendid buildings, a multi-cultural community, a “Little Istanbul“ à la Neukölln, any amount of creative drive, and a proud gay and lesbian scene with bars and clubs.
Mannheim is a rough place, true – but it’s also one that’s rich in diversity. Did you know that Mannheim is home to the second largest baroque palace in Europe after Versailles? And that it boasts the greatest density of shop shops in Germany? As Chris Cosmo once sang:
In Mannheim weint man zweimal,
Wenn es einen hierher verschlägt,
In Mannheim weint man zweimal:
Einmal, wenn man kommt, und einmal, wenn man geht.
Which roughly translates to:
In Mannheim you shed tears twice,
If in fate is what you believe,
In Mannheim you shed tears twice,
The first time when you arrive, and the second when you leave.
That’s what I used to feel about Berlin. I hated the city, and then in the end fell in love with it. All the things that Mannheim has to offer to its visitors and what the reason is “why the sun here shines the whole year round, and even out of the people’s anal orifices”, as the song daintily puts it – these are the things I’d like to pass on to you in my post on Mannheim’s points of interest. To set you in the right mood, first a short video that I’ve created:
Mannheim attractions: Nature in its purest form on the Reißinsel
When I drove past a riding stables and parked my car in a spot surrounded by woods and meadows, I couldn’t believe it at first – I was still in the middle of Mannheim. If you want to visit the Reißinsel and travel there by car, then the best route is to drive to Rheingoldstrasse 215, 68199 and park your car 100 meters further on at the edge of the woods, where there’s a public car park on the right-hand side. From there it’s just a short walk into the oldest and most popular nature reserve in Mannheim. The Reißinsel even counts as one of the most important areas for flood-plain protection along the Upper Rhine.
The aim of the people of Mannheim is to uphold the wish of the island’s former owner, the consul Karl Reiß: “May the island for all time remain in its unspoiled natural state”. That’s worked out so far. I walked out across a levee and came to a small sandy beach, criss-crossed with twisted branches and tree trunks. It felt a little like being in a jungle.
Mannheim attractions: little itlay in mannheim
If you walk along the “Franzosenweg” and the “Strandbadweg” you’ll come to a sunbathing lawn, a small promenade, and a spanking new Italian restaurant, the PURiNO. Here you can sit on the terrace and take in a panoramic view over the water and the ships out on the river, and the little waves that splash on the shore even make you feel as if you were at the seaside. This place is breathtakingly beautiful at sunset. My reader Nadja, however, told me that the Italian restaurant on the campsite is even a bit more attractive and traditional. The more sportive among you are in for a special treat on the Reißinsel, which also boasts a forest sports track. I crossed paths with plenty of joggers and cyclists there.
Mannheim attractions: Europe’s most beautiful park landscape
The Luisenpark is not simply a park. It’s a small journey into another world, with something new just around nearly every corner. At the entrance to the park I was a bit irritated at the start – first, they charge you entry, and second, the ticket costs six euros. In retrospect, however, the visit to the park is worth every single cent. The visitor gets treated to a full entertainment programme for young and old alike. You can take a gondola over the Kutzerweiher pond, drink tea in the Chinese Garden, and even take a ride through the park on the Duojing train. I also really enjoyed the hand and barefoot trail, where the visitors are invited to negotiate their way through a path with different tactile surfaces and even wade through streams. I couldn’t resist the temptation of the trip on the Gondoletta, which after all isn’t merely the highlight of the park, but even its signature feature. If you’re in luck, then Mario will be there to help you into the boat, the legendary Gondoletta attendant who’s been working there the past fifteen years.
Mannheim attractions: watch the storks
On the boat ride you’ll encounter giant carp, if you’re lucky turtles, or maybe a stork. A whole family of storks was nesting in a tree when I made my visit, and now and then the sound of them clattering their beaks filled the air. If you’re interested in finding out more about these long-legged feathered friends and would like to see fledgling storks being raised, there’s the Storchencam [storkcam] installed in the nest. In any case, if you’re planning to visit the Luisenpark you’d better schedule an entire day if you want to see everything it has to offer – and also to spend some time lounging on the lawn.
Theodor-Heuss-Anlage 2, 68165 Mannheim – Phone 0621 410050
Mannheim attractions: regional, seasonal, and social – Café Vogelfrei
In Mannheim I discovered something that’s entirely unique – the Café Vogelfrei. Home-made and entirely vegan dishes are served here, and you can enjoy them in the cosy courtyard or lounging on a comfy grandma-style sofa. All the cakes are hand-baked, the soups are made only with vegetables, water, herbs and spices, and the dough for the pizzas, quiches, and bread is home-made, too.
Once a week the café gets a crate of organic produce with regional and seasonal fruit and vegetables, and that’s when the people there start to put together their menu for the coming days. And the cakes look absolutely divine. The thing I found most impressive – everything here is thought through from beginning to end. It goes without saying that the milk and tea are also bio-certified, the coffee comes from No Marketing, a scheme in which the profit is not used for advertising but instead is invested in social projects. Besides the delicious food, the café also has an attractive cultural programme. Café Vogelfrei is the perfect setting for a coffee klatsch with your best friend. Every last Friday in the month there’s a live band performance, and on Sundays avid fans of the “Tatort” detective TV series gather to watch their favourite programme. The Mannheimer Schloss [Mannheim Palace] is just around the corner; this is not only open for guided tours, but is also a popular location for a broad range of events. Simply check what’s going on there before you plan your trip.
C 3, 20, 68159 Mannheim
Mannheim attractions: The sacred halls of the Pop Academy
There are only very few people who get the chance to look behind the scenes and visit the sacred halls of the Pop Academy. Udo Lindenberg records his music here, and renowned musicians such as Xavier Naidoo, Smudo, and Tim Renner have taken many budding young talents under their wings to point them to stardom, showing the next generation how to make the dream of an own music label come true. Over 500 musicians apply for entrance to the academy each year, but only 30 are accepted.
I’ve compiled a list of the most renowned graduates from the academy for you:
The concept of the Pop Academy is absolutely fantastic in my opinion. Musicians meet singer-songwriters, music-business students, and producers. All meet to combine their expertise, and everyone profits from the collaboration. Udo Lindenberg was here just yesterday, and tomorrow the admission exams start. A couple of bands were rehearsing while I was walking through. It was an incredibly exciting experience, thinking that maybe some of these people will turn out to be the stars of tomorrow. For twelve years now the Pop Academy has been located in the Jungbusch quarter, which once counted as a shady part of town. Meanwhile it’s become a small trendy district with plenty of great bars and clubs.
I was absolutely fascinated by the number of projects that the Pop Academy sponsors. For example, they cooperate with a local elementary school that has an immigration rate of 90%. Rappers come into the classrooms and write songs with the kids. The newly created “World Music” class gives the children the chance to learn how to handle traditional musical instruments, play music together, and afterwards listen to their recordings. The Pop Academy also supports a choir of senior citizens, named (F)Altenrock, which writes new texts to modern songs. If you’d like to take an auditory peek, so to say, into the work of two Pop Academy graduates from the electronic music area, then simply enter “Jewelz and Sparks” and “Virtualriot” under Deezer.
It was very interesting and a great honour to be given this guided tour. In 2014 the UNESCO, the most important cultural institution in the world, adopted Mannheim into its Creative Cities Network, and since then Mannheim is entitled to call itself a UNESCO City of Music. There are any number of events at which you can experience the students and graduates and discover their talents for yourselves. List of all events.
Mannheim attractions: Hagestolz
The place to be in the Jungbusch quarter – the Hagestolz. This is where the “Nachtwandel”(Night-time Stroll) festival takes place at the end of October each year. The whole district comes alive, artists can present their work, and every back yard is a musical stage. Almost 30,000 visitors come here every year to take part in this festival.
Mannheim attractions: Night-life tips
- Speicher 7: 1. Hotel and bar in a former grain silo, with a fantastic terrace right on the water’s edge. Perfect for a relaxing summer evening. – Rheinvorlandstr.7 KLICK
- Turmcafe & Cocktailbar Stars: 2. Opened in 1994, the skyline bar overlooking the rooftops of Mannheim with a view over the attractive old town. This is an ideal place to watch the sun go down, best with one of the delicious cocktails in your hand. – Stadthaus N1 KLICK
- Manufaktur Mannheim: 3. Super-chic restaurant with its very own stylish beach. The restaurant is open daily, and in the summer there’s plenty of space on the beach for relaxing and smoking a shisha. – Industriestraße 35 KLICK
- Barhopping im Szeneviertel Jungbusch: 4. The Jungbusch district is the hip quarter of Mannheim. Boasting some 25 bars, this is the place for drinking and partying, catering to the tastes of everyone. The place to be at weekends.
- Hafen49: 5. The Hafen 49 location in the harbour district gets very loud at the weekend. Between red-brick walls and rusty containers, this is where the Mannheimers dance the night away to house, techno, and electro beats. – Hafenstraße 49 KLICK
- Café Blau: 6. If you’ve not been to Café Blau, you’ve not been in Mannheim, since this “café” is Mannheim’s cult bar. Indie DJs take the stage here to play indie rock, soul, and new wave, and sometimes even live concerts are played here. – Jungbuschstraße 14 KLICK
- Soho: 7. It’s loud, it’s colourful – it’s the Soho. This club is the place to go for that special auditory experience – from electro to rock and soul, all the way to black music. Be there! – J7,16 KLICK
Mannheim attractions: The ZeitgEISt ice-cream manufactory
The photostat proudly hangs in the shop window of the ZeitgEISt ice cream manufactory in Mannheim like an official certificate. This year, the “Zeitmagazin” periodical ran a survey to vote the best ice-cream parlours in Germany. The fifteen best ice-cream parlours were then shown on a map of Germany – among them the ZeitgEISt ice-cream manufactory. And I can only go along with the judgement: this ice-cream parlour is simply awesome.
The secret ingredient may well be the passion that Christopher devotes to his ice-cream manufactory. After studying digital media, spending five years working at a publishing company, and freelancing as a wedding photographer, he called it a day and did his own thing. In May last year he opened his own ice-cream parlour. There were two reasons for his decision:
- He just didn’t like what Mannheim had to offer in the way of ice cream.
- He’d always dreamed of working in an ice-cream parlour.
And because he felt that he was a bit on the old side to take a job in one, Christopher simply decided to open his own parlour. The queue in front of the shop gives a good indication of the quality of his ice-cream scoops – they’re so good that people will gladly wait ten minutes until they reach the front of the queue. After all, anticipation is half the fun, as the saying goes. On Facebook you’ll find the scoops of the day. Vanilla is of course always on the menu, just as are chocolate, strawberry, mango and yogurt. But there are never more than thirteen flavours on the go at once. Among his more whacky creations are flavours such as apple and celery or rice pudding. I tried three vegan ice scoops – raspberry, mango, and chocolate, and I’ve never had such excellent vegan ice cream before. If I’d been able to, I’d have taken a large bowl back to Berlin to enjoy at home. A real shame that you can’t send ice cream by post…
Mannheim attractions: After shopping for groceries on the market, a short trip to Istanbul
The market place in the northern part of Mannheim. Tuesdays and Thursdays are the market days here, where fresh fruit, vegetables, and plenty of regional specialties fill the stalls and barrows waiting to be sold. The market square borders directly on the “Little Istanbul” quarter, home to many Turkish bakeries – for example the Saray Pastanesi in in quadrant H2 – and a multitude of Turkish restaurants and shops, from traditional barbershops and hairdressers all the way to stores for wedding dresses.
Mannheim attractions: Putting up in the Staytion
The Staytion is a hotel of a very special kind. The hotel motto: music meets industry. The hotel consistently pursues three specific themes: urban design, music, and sushi, and this consistency pervades all six storeys of the building. All rooms have cool furnishings, with great pictures hanging on the walls and individual music coming from the speakers. Each storey is devoted to a specific artist, a particular stylistic genre, or one Mannheim band. Among them of course – the group “Söhne Mannheims“. At the reception the guests can even borrow an iPod jam-packed with the music for their particular floor – music fans are in for a special treat here.
Another special feature of the Staytion is sushi. It’s really worthwhile to spend an evening at the hotel bar and enjoy the place’s own Euro-Asian blend of sushi creations, accompanied by a craft beer or a classic cocktail.
Heinrich-Lanz-Straße 5, Telefon: 0621 4907670 KLICK
My room in the hotel
Music meets Industry
And my absolute favourite restaurant – my heart beats vegan!
This post was created in close cooperation with the “Stadtmarketing Mannheim GmbH” and “Urlaubsland Baden-Württemberg” city-marketing agencies.
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