Manheim was built, destroyed, and rebuilt several times in the seventeenth century; beginning in 1720, it became the seat of the Palatine electors and an important political and cultural center, with important art galleries, theatres, scientific academies, and symphonies. In the same year that the Palatine court moved to Munich (1778), Germany's first National Theatre opened in Mannheim; among its early performances was Schiller's Die Räuber (1782).
The city was, however, destroyed again in 1795, and was of diminished cultural importance until 1848, when it was rebuilt and became a center of revolutionary activities.
Mary Shelley describes the city in The History of a Six Weeks' Tour, under "Germany":
We saw on the shores few objects that called forth our attention, if I except the town of Manheim, which was strikingly neat and clean. It was situated at about a mile from the river, and the road to it was planted on each side with beautiful acacias.