Jena was founded quite late, compared to its near neighbour villages, in the early 2nd millennium. Part of the State of Thuringia from its foundation in 1920 on, it was incorporated into the German Democratic Republic in 1949 and its district of Gera in 1952. Since 1990, the city of Jena has been a part of the Free State of Thuringia which is itself part of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Jena has one of the biggest universities in Germany and its ratio of students to the total of inhabitants may belong to the greatest in Germany, as there are 20,000 students at the university which was founded in 1558 and named after Friedrich Schiller in 1934. Additionally, there are some 4,500 students at the university of applied sciences (Fachhochschule), making one out of four citizens of Jena a student.
Goethe and Schiller, probably the two greatest German writers, lived in Jena as well as for example the biologist Ernst Haeckel, the physicists Ernst Abbe and Erwin Schrödinger and the philosopher Karl Marx.
Jena is also famous of its Carl Zeiss optics and the Schott glass factories. Still important to Jena, the number of workers drastically declined after Jena became part of capitalistic Germany.
There are two small airports in Altenburg (east of Jena) and Erfurt (west of Jena), but the former has no scheduled passenger traffic while the latter is only used by charter flights to sunny holiday destinations.
Coming from far away you will most probably arrive in Frankfurt. Coming from there you can either take the train to Erfurt (InterCityExpress) or Weimar (InterCity) and then change to a regional train going to Jena or you can go by car via Autobahn A4 straight towards Jena. This is approx. 300 km.
Jena is located directly at the north-south connection between Munich and Berlin with a stop in the Paradies-Bahnhof (literally paradise station, as the park it is in is called Paradies). On the other hand you can jump on the west-east connection between Frankfurt and Leipzig in Weimar which is some kilometres away.
Jena is not far from the Hermsdorfer Kreuz where the A9 (E49/E51) from Berlin to Munich and the A4 (E40) from Frankfurt to Dresden cross. Just take the way towards Erfurt/Frankfurt and you'll reach Jena within minutes.
You can reach all important destinations by walking. You can also use public transportation, (buses and street cars) but public transportation is not cheap in Jena. Details at Jenaer Nahverkehr GmbH.
- Holzmarkt ( literally wood market).
- Schiller's garden house, Schillergäßchen 2. exhibition
- Anatomy Tower.
- Johannisturm ( John's Tower). As well as part of old town wall and the Pulverturm
- Botanic Garden ( Botanischer Garten), Fürstengraben 26.
Jena is surrounded by hills. Hence there are a lot of very nice opportunities to get a beautiful panorama view of the town. From the towers or the restaurants Wilhelmshöhe and Landgrafen.
- JenTower. 3€.
- Paradies (Close to the centre of Jena). nice park, especially in the summer a lot of students use this park for barbecue and hanging out with their friends.
- Kulturhaus. theatre
- Walk the town (itinerary suggestion). Holzmarkt (literally wood market) is a good point to start your tour through Jena. Go up to Löbdergraben and turn towards Engelplatz (Post office). You'll see the Kulturhaus. Right next to it there is a small street in which you can find Schiller's garden house with an exhibition in it. By the way, Kulturhaus has great theatre. Leaving again towards Engelplatz and going straight towards Johannisplatz on the left you'll find GoetheGalerie, one of the greatest shopping malls in Jena. On the right is the Anatomy Tower. Some metres ahead there is Ernst-Abbe-Platz which is meant to be the Campus of the university for Mathematics, Law, Economy and some other departments (faculties) are located around the place. If you are on Johannisplatz, you'll see Johannisturm (John's Tower). Right next to it there is the Intershop Tower which is owned by a new economy company. At its bottom there is Neue Mitte, another great shopping mall. If you turn around you see Wagnergasse. Wagnergasse is the best location to have a rest in a restaurant. "Stilbruch" is known to be among the best restaurants in Jena. You can now go some metres up to Fürstengraben. If you go along Fürstengraben, after some metres you will see the Botanic Garden. It is absolutely worth going there. After passing the Thuringian University and State Library (on the left) you will see University Main Building (Universitätshauptgebäude) on the right. Turn right to the Schlossgasse and left towards Oberlauengasse. Go some metres through Oberlauengasse and then turn right towards Markt. On the great square you can see the old city hall. Eating here is not the worst idea. Take now the way towards Kollegiengasse. Here you can find where the university was actually founded. On the right there is Eichplatz. Now turn left towards Holzmarkt and you're at the place where you started.
- Kulturarena: 9 July - 23 August 2015 . a very popular summer cultural event with dozens of good international artists and entertainers. (date needs updating)
Take a look at GoetheGalerie or Neue Mitte. Here you can find almost anything you need. Another places for shopping are the shopping centres Burgaupark and Schillerpassage.
- GoetheGalerie. one of the greatest shopping malls in Jena
- Neue Mitte. great shopping mall
Thuringian specialties are: Thüringer Rostbratwurst (Thuringian roaster sausage), Rostbrätel (roasted meat). These can be found e.g. at the Grillteufel food stalls.
- Noll, Oberlauengasse.
- Stilbruch, Wagnergasse.
- R2 (just off the market square). a sitdown restaurant with good burgers and steaks.
- Café Immergrün. A very pleasant place with student atmosphere
- Pulverturm (the entrance a bit hidden in the back yard).
- Quirinus. atmospheric cafe
- Stilbruch. known to be among the best restaurants in Jena
As Jena is a student town and a town in the east of Germany, prices are slightly lower than in Western Germany.
- You should taste black (dark) beer. In all restaurants you will either get Köstritzer or Schwarze Rose. Both are good. You will find many Pils sorts as well.
- Gruenowski (behind the theatre). a lively pub which also serves food
- Papiermühle. Jena brewed beer
Enjoy nightlife at
Accommodation can be booked through the tourist information:
- Jena Tourist-Information, Markt 16, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com.
A list of accommodation options can be found at on the towns tourist website
- Jugendgästehaus (youth hostel), Am Herrenberge 3 (To get there, take bus line 10,13 or 40 from Teichgraben or Westbahnhof (Western train station) with direction Burgau. Get off at Zeiss-Werk. From there, it is 800 metres by foot slightly uphill along Mühlenstraße.), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: JGH-Jena@internationaler-bund.de. Room rates including breakfast:Single room 27,50 EUR, Double room 41,- EUR, Dorm (3 or 4 beds) from 18,50 EUR per person.
- Gäste-Haus-Wettin, Erfurter Straße 52 (To get there, take bus line 16 from Teichgraben or Johannistor direction Papiermühle or Isserstedt for about two kilometres.), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Room rates without breakfast:Single/Double room from 17,50 EUR, Dorm from 12,50 EUR per person.
Mid-range and splurge
There are lots of good hotels with reasonable prices. Places located in Old Town include:
- Hotel Schwarzer Bär.
- Hotel & Kneipengalerie Zur Noll.
- Restaurant & Hotel Weinbauernhaus im Sack.
- Steigenberger Esplanade Jena.
- IBIS Hotel City.
Although Germany's east is considered to be a bit more dangerous for people "looking foreign" this is not problem in Jena due to the high number of foreigners, especially foreign students. Jena is among the towns with the highest ratio of foreigners in eastern Germany. So just take those measures you would normally take in the town you come from. Though, when using the tram in the night, the risk of encountering people you didn't want to encounter rises.
Buses leaving from the bus terminal adjacent to the main train station are only serving regional destinations of minor touristic interest, such as Eisenberg or Schleiz.
The best option is going by train from Westbahnhof to towns like Weimar (20 min.) or Erfurt (40 min.). Trains are leaving approx. once an hour. From the main train station Jena-Paradis, it is possible to go to Dornburg, Naumburg and Rudolstadt by regional train, and to Leipzig, Berlin, Nuremberg and Munich by ICE (high speed train). Trains leaving every two hours.
People who like hiking might try the Thüringenweg, a 400 km hiking trail: http://www.wanderbares-deutschland.de/page.php?ID=W_013