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This German city center's streets have no names — and your GPS won't help you.

Andrea Romano
March 07, 2018

If you ever get lost in the center of Mannheim, Germany, don't assume you can rely on Google Maps to help you find your way around. This particular part of the city has no street names, so it’s nearly impossible for computer GPS systems to give directions that would mean anything to you.

A video from YouTuber Tom Scott's series, "Amazing Places," shows how people can actually navigate through the squares like a local without getting turned around.

“Every other building is referred to by which square it’s on,” Scott says of the grid-like zone. “The west half gets the letters A through K, the east half, L to U, and thus followed by the number of blocks from the center.”

If that made your head spin, you may want to take a seat, because it's even more confusing than it sounds. In fact, on the map website My German City, certain streets are labeled several different names depending on what block a person is on.

Related: Man Studied Google Maps, Apple Maps and Waze for an Entire Year to Determine Which Is the Best

As Scott mentions in the video, Mannheim isn’t the only place in the world to have streets without names. “There are lots of streets that don’t have names in rural areas in parts of the developing world or there are roads that just have a number or a letter. And some of you will go, ‘Well, actually, Japan, most of Japan doesn’t name its streets, it names and numbers its city blocks.”

The website Planet Tokyo explains how a tourist can learn how to read a Japanese address so they can get to where they’re going.

But this system is pretty rare in a country like Germany — although it’s nothing new for residents of Mannheim.

“This bit of Mannheim has had some form of this block numbering for a long, long time. Why change it? Just because some programmers can’t figure out how to put it into their database?” Scott says.

So maybe the best thing a traveler in Mannheim can do is embrace getting a bit lost. It might be the perfect way to open yourself up to experiencing a new city without being attached to your phone.

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