The city of Jena is brought to life by a fascinating combination of a historic, intellectual past, a delightful countryside and innovative, international research and industry, as well as a youthful student life. This rich variety creates an unique backdrop which gives this small, lively city its special charm.
Jena has been one of the most famous places to study in Germany since the founding of its university, the "Alma Mater Jenensis" in 1558. At the end of the eighteenth century, thanks to its close connection to the nearby royal seat at Weimar and support by the poet and minister Goethe, the city on the Saale went through its classical period, during which it developed into the most important intellectual centre in Germany.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, Jena developed into an industrial city thanks to the work of the three scientific and economic giants Carl Zeiss, Otto Schott and Ernst Abbe. Their cooperation led to the creation of the world-famous Zeiss works and the Jena "Schott und Genossen" glassworks. This effective cooperation between research institutes and economic enterprises has proved its value all the way up to the present day and justifies Jena's exceptional reputation as a high-technology location.
As well as museums of technology, science, literature and art history, there is also an attractive, modern cultural scene in Jena For example, the annual "Kulturarena" open-air festival attracts international stars to Jena, and there are plenty of individual, top-class events among the wide range from Jena Theatre (Theaterhaus), Jena Art Society (Kunstverein) and Jena Philharmonic Orchestra.
What students, businesspeople and day-trippers love the most is the convivial mood in the many cafés, restaurants and rustic, cosy pubs in the lovingly preserved streets of the Altstadt (Old Town). In the city centre, these are intermingled with modern shopping facilities such as the Goethe Galerie and the "neue mitte" (New Centre) at the 159m-high JenTower, whose observation deck provides a fantastic panoramic view.