Jena – City of Science

The city of Jena offers a fascinating combination of its impressive history and an innovative, international, and research-oriented industry. Enjoy the new "Jena Uncovered" movie clip!
Video: University of Jena (Jena Uncovered video with englsich subtitles)

A city which combines history and high tech

Jena city center. Jena city center. Image: Jan-Peter Kasper (University of Jena)

The city of Jena is brought to life by the fascinating combination of its interesting and impressive history, featuring many famous scientists, writers, philosophers and others, its delightful countryside, its innovative international research-oriented industry, as well as its vivid student community. This rich variety creates a unique atmosphere which gives this small, lively city its special charm. Jena is well known to be one of the most innovative and dynamic cities in Germany. Foreigners living here often emphasize that Jena is extraordinarily secure, clean, friendly, tolerant, and affordable.

Students' paradise Jena

Jena university main campus. Jena university main campus. Image: Anne Günther (University of Jena)

There are not many places in which science penetrates as deeply into so many aspects of life as it does in Jena. More than 23,000 students and young career scientists shape the city's character. Apart from the more than 450-year-old Friedrich Schiller University de and the University of Applied Sciences, founded in 1991, there are approximately 30 other research institutions in which science plays a vibrant and prominent role. For these and more reasons, Jena was elected Germany's "Science City" in 2008.

Jena's countryside

Canoe trip on the Saale Canoe trip on the Saale Image: Anne Günther (University of Jena)

The both traditional and innovative city of Jena is built on the banks of the Saale River. The Saale Valley is enriched by various monuments, associated with famous names of local historical figures, giving credit to its cultural heritage. Besides its numerous tourist attractions, the city of Jena is nestled in a Mediterranean-like landscape with limestone hills up to 400 meters high and offers a variety of bicycle paths as well as hundreds of kilometers of well-kept hiking trails with breathtaking views.

Jena's academic and intellectual development

Monument of Goethe and Schiller in Weimar. Monument of Goethe and Schiller in Weimar. Image: Jan-Peter Kasper (University of Jena)

Jena has been one of the most famous places for higher education in Germany since the founding of its university, the "Alma Mater Jenensis", in 1558. At the end of the 18th century, thanks to its close connection to the nearby royal seat at Weimar and the support from the world-famous German poets Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, the city in the Saale valley was directly influenced by the German Classical Period, developing into one of the most important intellectual centers in Germany. Today, with more than 6,000 employees the Friedrich Schiller University Jena is the largest employer in the State of Thuringia.

Jena's economic development

Nonlinear optics laboratory. Nonlinear optics laboratory. Image: Jan-Peter Kasper (University of Jena)

During the second half of the 19th century Jena developed into an industrial city, thanks to the work of three scientific and economic giants: Carl Zeiss, Otto Schott and Ernst Karl Abbe. Their cooperation led to the creation of the world-famous Carl Zeiss and the Jena Schott glass factories. This effective cooperation between research institutes and economic enterprises has had a deep and lasting impact on local life and research and has led to Jena's exceptional reputation as a high-technology location. In the national surveys, Jena is always top-ranked. For example, in the Prognos study 2019, Jena was ranked 29th among 402 cities in Germany. The report stated that "Jena is one of the top demographic areas in Germany, with very high dynamics, excellent job and digitalization chances." The city ranks 4th among Germany's high-tech cities according to the national Job-Lift-Ranking in 2018. Jena has the lowest level of personal debt among adults of 18 years or older throughout Germany and thus ranks first, relegating Heidelberg and Erlangen to ranks 2 and 3 respectively. In terms of patent applications, Jena ranks 2nd and is topped only by Erlangen, while it ranks 3rd with regard to the lowest rates of criminal offences, only Fürth and Erlangen having lower rates."

Jena's modern cultural scene

Fulldome festival Jena. Fulldome festival Jena. Image: Anne Günther (University of Jena)

Apart from museums for science, optics, literature, modern arts, and natural history, Jena also features an attractive cultural scene. The annual Kulturarena open-air music festival, for instance, brings numerous international stars to Jena. Moreover, there are plenty of individual, top-class events offered by the Jena Theater, the Agency for Cultural Events ("Jenakultur"), the Jena Art Society and the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra year round.

Sightseeing and shopping - Jena's city life

Wagnergasse in downtown Jena. Wagnergasse in downtown Jena. Image: Jan-Peter Kasper (University of Jena)

The thing that students, business people, and day-trippers love the most is the convivial mood in the cafés, restaurants, and cozy, rustic pubs in the streets of our lovingly preserved historic city center. Here, the time-honored old town meets modern architecture, such as our shopping malls, the Goethe Galerie and the Neue Mitte. The latter is located at the 159 m-high JenTower and provides a fantastic panoramic view of the city and its surroundings from its impressive observation deck.

Jena for students

Skateboard park Skateboard park Image: Christoph Worsch (University of Jena)

Jena is not just the place we want you to be, it's also the place you will want to be! With more than 23,000 students in a city of 110,000 inhabitants, Jena is a young and vivacious city. Its many bars and cafés invite you to stay a while and chat with friends, various gigs and concerts, open-air events and theater performances let you dive into the cultural life of your host town. Or perhaps you would prefer to have a good time at one of our many clubs? It's up to you. By the way: Never mind if last night's visit to our night life activities was a late one. Jena streets are as safe at night as they are during the day. In addition, trams and busses will bring you home 24 hours a day - free of charge for all students. We are sure you will find it just as enjoyable as we do.

...and much more beyond our city

World heritage medieval Wartburg close to Eisenach. World heritage medieval Wartburg close to Eisenach. Image: Jan-Peter Kasper (University of Jena)

Of course, there is much more to explore outside of Jena. Embedded in a green countryside of tiny villages with ancient churches, castles, and sunny meadows, the surroundings of Jena invite you to rest and relax and explore the soul of Germany's green heart on the banks of the Saale river. Experience the tranquility of the place from which Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany's national poet, drew his inspiration. By the way - if you would like to know where he lived, then visit Weimar, the city of the German literary classics and the European Cultural Capital of 1999 – use the free train to reach it in only 15 minutes. Once you're on the train, why not travel a little further? Maybe to Erfurt with its medieval city center? To the Thuringian Forest for cross-country skiing? It's all within an hour's reach. And if you feel the need to travel to a large city like Berlin or Munich, you can reach these by train within two or three hours, respectively.

YouTube video from JenaWirtschaft: "Working and living in Jena"

Working & living in Jena