Jena is the second largest city in Thuringia, situated at the river Saale. Because of the warm climate the region is called the Tuscany of Thuringia.
“Ara, caput, draco, mons, pons, vulpecula turris, Weigeliana domus, septem miracula Jenae”
Seven landmarks of Jena already amazed many visitors in the 17th century. Except for the Weigeliana domus (“Weigelsches Haus”) and the pons all of them are more or less preserved:
- ara – an underpass beneath the altar of the gothic St. Michael’s Church (“Michaelskirche”, 1506, that also has a bronze slab of Martin Luther’s tomb),
- caput – the head of the “Snatching Hans” (“Schnapphans”) at the astronomical clock of the 13th century town hall,
- draco – the dragon, a prank build by students, that can be visited in the town museum,
- mons – a mountain of chalk, called Jenzig, that glows red in the rising and setting sun,
- pons – the “Camsdorfer Brücke”, the first stone arch bridge across the river Saale (the original bridge was replaced by a new construction in 1912),
- vulpecula turris – the “Fuchsturm”, the keep of an ancient castle.
- Weigeliana domus – its fame is due to diverse technical tricks that were built into the house, designed by the professor for mathematics Erhard Weigel (the building was demolished in 1898 for street widening).
Further historical attractions, among many others, are the monument to John Frederick the Magnanimous (founder of the University of Jena) in the market square or the numerous towers from the medieval fortifications, including the Powder Tower (13th-14thcenturies). Several places remind of two famous german poets that were citizens of Jena: Friedrich Schiller and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
The Friedrich Schiller University of Jena was founded in 1558 as the Collegium Jenense. Aside from the FSU numerous research laboratories and institutes are located here. Further, Jena is home to the famous companies Carl Zeiss and SCHOTT JENAer GLAS. Carl Zeiss, Otto Schott, and Ernst Abbe provided the fundamentals of modern optics here. To learn more about this topic, visit the Optical Museum Jena. The Zeiss-Planetarium is the oldest still existing planetarium of the world. In the Science Center Imaginata, one can try out experiments with optical illusions and the laws of physics.
Ernst Haeckel formed the history of evolutionary biology in Jena. He discovered, described and named thousands of new species and mapped a genealogical tree relating all life forms. We recommend visiting the Museum of Phylogeny, founded by him.
Jena is not only surrounded by nature worth an excursion, but also the city has splendid parks to offer. Directly alongside the planetarium is the “Botanische Garten Jena“, founded in 1580, the second oldest botanical garden in Germany. The biggest park along the Saale is called Jena Paradies (paradise), with several cocktail bars to visit in the warm season.
The most striking building of Jena is the Jen-Tower (also called “Keksrolle”), with a restaurant and viewing platform at the 27th floor, offering a beautiful view over the town. Right beside the tower is the entrance to the Wagnergasse, the center of the nightlife with several pubs and cafés.
To get in touch with arts in Jena, we recommend to check the schedules of the Theaterhaus Jena or the Volkshaus, or visit the art collection in the Neue Göhre or the abstract sculptures of Frank Stella on the campus.
For further information see, for example, www.jena.de