The Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region lies at the crossroads of the three states Baden-Württemberg, Hessen and Rhineland-Palatinate; also two of Germany's largest rivers, the Rhine and the Neckar. A total of seven administrative districts and eight large cities belong to the region. It stretches from the Palatinate forest in the west to the Odenwald forest and Kraichgau in the east, and from the French border in the southwest to Ried in northern Hessen.
With a total population of 2.4 million people, the Rhine-Neckar region is perhaps best known for its three major cities: Mannheim, Ludwigshafen and Heidelberg. Aside from these three regional centers, there are 30 medium-sized towns spread throughout the region. The region also includes two of Germany's oldest and most historic cities, Speyer and Worms, as well as one of the country's best wine growing regions with many picturesque towns and villages.
Even though the region stretches over three states, cooperation in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region has a long tradition. In 2005, the region was officially declared a European Metropolitan Region and its responsibilities were expanded to include regional planning, tourism, economic development, culture and much more. This lead to the creation of a number of regional organizations, including the Metropolregion Rhein Neckar GmbH, whose goal is to develop regional strategies and projects and to promote them through dialog with public institutions and corporate clients. Today, the region is the seventh largest regional conurbation in Germany.
The Rhine Neckar Metropolitan Region has a strong business base. Some of the leading international companies, such as ABB, BASF, Roche and SAP, are located in the region, as well as export-oriented mid-sized companies. Altogether, there are more than 145,000 companies in the region and a total workforce of more than 870,000. The main industrial sectors represented in the region include IT, chemical, mechanical engineering, bio-technology, life sciences, energy and enviromental services.
The economic success of the region is closely linked to its academic institutions. The University of Heidelberg has a worldwide reputation in medical research, while the University of Mannheim ranks among Europe's top institutions for economics. Altogether, there are 22 universities with more than 85,000 students in the region. In addition, numerous others attend a variety of training and educational facilities not associated with the universities.
The Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region is also well known for its rich cultural landscape. Worms has a rich cultural heritage and was the scene of many events in the ancient Germanic poem "Das Nibelungenlied". Eight holy Roman Emperors and German kings are buried at the Speyer Cathedral. The Hambach Castle, high above Neustadt, is considered the birthplace of German democracy.
From the Palatinate forest through to the Odenwald region, the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region has an especially mild climate which is favorable for growing wine grapes, almonds, figs and even citrus fruits. This area is one of the leading wine producing regions in Germany. It is hardly surprising that the region is home to numerous wine festivals, such as the world's largest wine festival, Dürkheimer Sausage Market (Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt) in Bad Dürkheim or the German Vintage Wine Festival (w.i.n.e.FESTival) in Neustadt an der Weinstraße where the German and Palatinate wine queens are officially crowned.
Here is a brief overview of what it's like to live in Rhine-Neckar:
- Heidelberg, Mannheim & Ludwigshafen
- Bad Dürkheim, Bensheim, Deidesheim, Frankenthal, Germersheim & Heppenheim
- Landau, Mosbach, Neustadt, Speyer, Weinheim & Worms