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Located at the confluence of the Rhine and Neckar rivers, Mannheim is a vibrant city with a rich cultural and industrial history. The city's most recognizable feature is its 'chessboard' layout, a feature unique in Germany. Its grand centerpiece, the Mannheim Palace - now a university, and the iconic Water Tower, presiding over the city's public park, are must-visit highlights. Mannheim's place as a significant city for inventions is cemented with Karl Benz inventing the first automobile, so touring the city by car is especially fitting.
Starting your journey, head towards the Technoseum, an interactive museum showcasing the highlights of technological and social history from the past 200 years. From there, it's a short drive to Luisenpark, often considered one of the most beautiful parks in Europe, where you can enjoy botanical gardens, a Chinese tea house, and a butterfly house. If you're more into culture, Mannheim's National Theatre, renowned for classical and contemporary productions is worth checking out. You can discover the city's musical heritage at the Pop Academy and Music Park.
For day trips outside the city, Mannheim makes an ideal starting point. It's less than an hour's drive to the historic cities of Heidelberg and Speyer, both with World Heritage-listed sites. The wine route or Deutsche Weinstrasse is another great option, offering stunning landscapes and fine wines. A particularly picturesque stretch is between Deidesheim and Bad Dürkheim. It's about an hour drive from Mannheim, but a journey worth experiencing by car for its winding roads through vine-clad hills and quaint villages.