Summary: For a city that did not survive the Second World War, Mannheim does better than most of its counterparts. More is needed, though, to recommend as a destination.
The city of Mannheim was once the illustrious capital of the Upper Rhine. From here ruled the Palatine Electors, the Dukes of Baden, and the industrial barons of the German Empire. Of their legacy, virtually nothing survives. Nevertheless, since you might find yourself here having to change trains to go somewhere else, let me give you a quick tour of what’s left.
Should you visit Mannheim?
I try to give ratings relative to the best that Europe has to offer. For Germany, with its war-torn cities, 6.5 is above average. Typically, you would expect a score of 5-6. Mannheim was basically removed from existence in 1945.
From a tourism perspective, Mannheim does not pretend to be a tourist attraction, catering to people in business and trade fairs. There is little to no tourist infrastructure, but that’s ok because there’s no reason for tourists to come here. But the palace is pretty cool so it gets a 2 out of 10.
In terms of historical preservation, there is none. It’s on par with your average German city and receives a 1.
Regarding cultural immersion, it has an excellent restaurant scene and a lively city center. However, it is primarily a commuter and student town, so the culture you are experiencing is perhaps not the one you are interested in. I give it a 4 because it has more life than Frankfurt.
It’s a major city, so everything is easily accessible, with lots of public transport and published opening hours. It only loses points in interactivity for not having much to interact with. 5.
Should You Visit?
There is no real reason for you to visit Mannheim unless you are already there.
How to See Mannheim
Unlike the other cities of the Rhineland, Mannheim does not have a long history into the distant past. (If you are more interested in the ancient past, I have an article with some itinerary guides for this portion of the Rhineland.) Sitting at the mouth of the Neckar River as it flows into the Rhine, there are traces of small settlements from the Roman period onwards and evidence of a castle built here in the Middle Ages.
Before it’s destruction in WWII, Mannheim had a collection of buildings from two eras, the Baroque cityscape of the Palatinate and the architecture of the German industrial revolution, namely late historicist and art nouveau.
For a more detailed guide to Mannheim
A Guide to Old Mannheim
Mannheim Opening Hours
The few destinations of note in Mannheim have fairly convenient opening hours:
|Electoral Palace||Tuesday-Sunday 10am–5pm|
|Palace Chapel||Tuesday-Sunday 10am–5pm|
|Jesuit Church||Everyday 9am–7pm|
In addition, a few other smaller museums in Mannheim might be of special interest, such as the Schiller House and the Reiss-Engelhorn Art/History Museum.
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Mannheim has a number of very nicely reconstructed buildings. However, these don’t make up for the catastrophic losses in WWII and in the later decades of the 20th century. If you have already seen all the other palaces in Europe, I could make a case for Mannheim. Otherwise, get on that train to Heidelberg.