Most people don’t realize that the world’s first bicycle and the world’s first automobile came from the same city, but it’s true. That city is Mannheim, and the city is still a forward-thinking industrial center for some of the planet’s leading companies like Daimler, IBM, Siemens, and Unilever. Despite the amount of big business going on here, Mannheim is still a wonderfully historic German city with plenty to see and do. Visitors can start by seeing the city’s most famous landmark, the Wasserturm, a grand 19th-century water tower surrounded by sprawling gardens with sculptures and fountains.

Stroll through Luisenpark, one of Europe’s most beautiful city parks, home to a Chinese garden, arboretum, greenhouses, rose garden, and even the famous 200-meter-high telecommunication tower known as Fernmeldeturm. Back on the streets, make your way to Marktplatz to browse the stalls of the city’s great markets. Here, you can buy some local meats, cheeses, and breads, then pack them all up and head to the riverbanks for a nice picnic.

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