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Mannheim: City of squares

Mannheim is love at second sight. The first thing you notice here are the industrial buildings with their cold grey walls. But then you are captivated by the charm and beauty of the town. "Believe me, I'm staying here", sings the band "Söhne Mannheims" in their song "Meine Stadt" (my town) – and rightfully so.

by Sandra Friedrichs

Schloss Mannheim © Friedrichs/DAAD
Schloss Mannheim . © Friedrichs/DAAD

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
291,000
Students:
18,900
Universities:
5
Monthly rent:
302 €
Tip:
Join one of the legendary student parties at Schneckenhof!
Website:
www.mannheim.de

Welcome to Mannheim

"Mannheim²" – this is how the city calls itself. This has nothing to do with mathematics but with the unique layout of Mannheim's city centre. The city's streets are laid out in a grid pattern. These blocks surround the Baroque Palace in the shape of a horseshoe. The famous palace, which today houses the university, is always in the middle of the grid. As if this weren't unusual enough, the streets in the city centre have no names but are referred to by a combination of letters and numbers, for example C1 or L5. This makes it much easier to find your way about because you don't have to remember any complicated street names.

Street sign © Friedrichs/DAAD
Street sign . © Friedrichs/DAAD

If you're studying at the university, you might be lucky enough to have a lecture in the Baroque Palace, where you can admire the magnificent halls. This is a very special feeling. But you can also visit the palace at other times. You only have to pay admission if you want to visit the museum in the middle section.

Wandering through the city centre, you'll soon notice how green Mannheim is. There are lots of parks, which attract crowds of people especially on sunny days. The locals often stroll along the shopping streets, known as the "Planken", before they end the day at the Wasserturm.

Water tower © Friedrichs/DAAD
Water tower . © Friedrichs/DAAD

Friedrichsplatz is right next to the Wasserturm. After an extensive tour of the town, you can cool off at the fountain. A few metres further along is the Luisenpark, rightly considered one of the most beautiful parks in Europe. An entrance fee is charged but you can admire lots of tropical plants, the Chinese Garden and animals.

If you fancy seeing Mannheim from above, it's worth visiting the television tower. You will then have not only the city but the two Rhine and Neckar rivers at your feet. You also get a glimpse of the neighbouring towns of Heidelberg and Ludwigshafen.

More photos

Living in Mannheim

If you're looking for a typical student town, Mannheim is just right. There are over 230 restaurants where you can eat at a very reasonable price. Restaurants and snack bars often offer student discounts and you can get a doner kebab or salad for less than 3 euros. Vegetarians and vegans meet at Café Vogelfrei in the city centre where tasty lunches are available from 2.50 euros.

My tip

You should definitely party at Schneckenhof, where the legendary University of Mannheim parties take place. Make sure you get a ticket well in advance because the open-air parties usually sell out really quickly!

Once you've eaten your fill at the hip Café Sammo or Café Vienna and shopped til you dropped at the numerous shops and boutiques on "Planken", explore the Jungbuschviertel. Up-and-coming musicians study here at the Popakademie and liven up this part of town. You can enjoy a cocktail in one of the many bars, such as Hagestolz and Kiets König, while listening to the bands of tomorrow.

If you prefer bigger events, visit the nearby Capitol. Here you can attend concerts, film screenings and cabaret evenings.

The people of Mannheim love to spend time on the Rhine or Neckar rivers. The promenades are ideal for this. You can meet friends here and contemplate the industrial sites on the opposite side of the river. This contrast is what makes up the charm of the city: on the one hand nature and public parks, on the other, workers loading transport ships.

Sports fans will find plenty to do in Mannheim, especially at the weekend. The town is ice-hockey mad and cheers on its team in the SAP Arena. You should definitely attend a match and experience the unique atmosphere!

Interview with Sevilay from Turkey

Sevilay Alhan is 22 years old and studied Psychology at the University of Mannheim.

Picture of Sevilay from Turkey © Sevilay Alhan
Sevilay from Turkey . © Sevilay Alhan

Why did you decide to study in Mannheim?

I actually wanted to go to Italy. But after I found out that tuition there is only in Italian I chose Germany, specifically Mannheim. Flights between Germany and Turkey are shorter too, that was especially important for my parents.

Did you have any problems when you first came to Mannheim?

I came to Germany in February. That was the coldest weather I've ever experienced! So if you come from a warm country, you definitely have to make the necessary preparations, for example bring thick clothes with you.

View on the city © Friedrichs/DAAD
View on the city . © Friedrichs/DAAD

Was it difficult finding accommodation?

I found my shared flat and my room in student residences through the university. It has an online portal for international students which helps them look for accommodation.

Did you have a part-time job?

I didn't work while I was studying in Germany. If you're a student in Germany, you get a work permit. If you have time and need to finance yourself, you can look for vacancies on the university notice board.

What most surprised you about life in Mannheim?

I was really surprised about the Marktplatz. The locals call it "Little Istanbul", which I find funny. A lot of Turks live here and many of the shops are Turkish. I knew beforehand that a lot of Turkish people live in Germany, but I never imagined there would be as many as there are here in Mannheim. As a Turkish person, this was a big advantage because I was able to find everything I needed from home.

Jungbuschviertel © Friedrichs/DAAD
Jungbuschviertel . © Friedrichs/DAAD

What do you like best about Mannheim?

Mannheim is a city of culture. There are so many immigrants living here at the moment, the people of Mannheim are used to foreigners. I think that's really great. So it's not a problem if you can't speak German. A lot of people can speak English.

Do you think Mannheim is a good place for foreign students to study?

The University of Mannheim does a lot, especially for Erasmus students. There are lots of events going on here that don't cost much. From parties to travel offers all over the country – everything is offered. I think Mannheim is the best place to study. I had a great time there and I miss it.

What is the conclusion you would make at the end of your stay in Germany?

Studying in Germany is just great! For me, Germany is a country I'd always like to go back to.