This post is dedicated to Tina at In the Garden, who visited Luisenpark during her sojourn in Germany.
On a beautiful fall afternoon last week I visited Luisenpark, right near where we live in Mannheim. Both Luisenpark and its sister park, Herzogenriedpark, were created in their modern form on the occasion of the German National Garden Exhibition when it was held in Mannheim in 1975. The National Garden Exhibition (Bundesgartenschau) has been held every two years since 1951 in a different city.
The hosting cities usually go all out, investing a lot of money not only in the infrastructure of the exhibition itself, but also in park and gardening infrastructure for their citizens. The exhibition draws millions of visitors - over 8 million people visited during the 5-month duration of the Mannheim exhibition.
As it turns out, I've personally benefited from the infrastructure created in Mannheim for the exhibit, since the section of the garden colony where my allotment is was appropriated by the city on this occasion, leveled, divided into plots, and turned over to the gardening association. This happened in other parts of the city, as well.
The lasting legacy of the exhibition is above all the two large urban parks, especially Luisenpark. When I first learned about the parks I was somewhat taken aback that there is an admission fee, but I've come to greatly appreciate this. It helps generate adequate funding for upkeep and you get plenty for the price (including clean restrooms). There are also no dogs allowed in the fully fenced-in park, which is great when you have small children. It's a very safe space. My annual pass costs me 28 Euros.
When you enter the park from our end, the first sight you see is the "lagoon" (you are welcome to click to enlarge any photo).
When you get to the other end of the lagoon and disembark, the first thing you see are stork nests and the "stork TV", affording a close-up view of one of the nests. These storks spend the entire year in Mannheim, and are sometimes a bother to picnickers in the park. I've seen one snatch a bratwurst right off the table. By the way, if you want to watch stork TV, here's a link to the web-cam. Give it a try!
For a bird's eye view you can also take the elevator up to the top of the television tower on the edge of the park, right on the banks of the Neckar River, and sit in the revolving restaurant. If you enlarge the photo below, you can just see the tower in the background. It's a favorite place to take visitors, since on a clear day you can see all the way to Heidelberg on one side, to the Palatinate forests on the other, and below you the industrial panorama of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen, including the huge harbor where the Neckar flows into the Rhine.