Jena - City of Science

A city which combines history and high tech

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


Bird's eye view on the estival city center of Jena.

There is hardly another other place where science penetrates all aspects of life as much as it does in Jena. More than 23,000 students and young-career scientists shape city's character. Apart from the more than 450-year-old Friedrich Schiller University and the University of Applied Sciences founded in 1991, there are approximately 30 other research institutions where science plays a vibrant role in everyday life. For these reasons and more, already in 2008 Jena was elected to be Germany's "Science City".

Jena's countryside

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


Hillside hiking trail near Jena in autumn.

Jena's academic and intellectual development

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 support by the world-famous German poets Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, the city in the Saale river valley was directly influenced by the German Classical Period, developing into one of the most important intellectual centers in Germany. Today, the Friedrich Schiller University Jena is the largest employer in the State of Thuringia with more than 6,000 employees.

Jena's economic development

During the second half of the 19th century, Jena developed into an industrial city due 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 impact on life and research up to the present day, justifying Jena's exceptional reputation as a high-technology location. In a ranking published by the German weekly business news magazine WirtschaftsWoche in 2016, Today, Jena ranks 17th among the 69 large cities of >100,000 inhabitants in Germany and thus attains the highest rank of all East German cities. The report states: "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."


Modern science and high-technology is breathed in many of the research-oriented institutions and companies in Jena.

Jena's modern cultural scene

Apart from museums for science, optics, literature, modern arts, and natural art history, there is also an attractive cultural scene in Jena. For example, the annual Kulturarena open-air music festival 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.

Sightseeing and shopping - Jena's city life

What students, businesspeople and day-trippers love the most is the convivial mood in the cafés, restaurants and rustic, cosy pubs in the lovingly preserved streets of the historic city center. The historic parts are intermingled with modern shopping malls such as the Goethe Galerie and the Neue Mitte, located at the 159 m-high JenTower, whose observation deck provides a fantastic panoramic view of the city and its surroundings.

Jena for students

Jena is not only 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 very young and vivacious city. The cafés invite you to chat with friends, to see and be seen. Concerts with various musical styles, open-air events and theaters let you dive into the cultural life of your host town. Or perhaps you would prefer to have a good time at one of the 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, the tram or buses 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.

j29061105_light_life_liberty_web450The triad "Light - Life - Liberty" reflects the close relation between tradition and institutional strategy of the Friedrich Schiller University.

...and much more beyond our city

There is much more to explore. 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 and the banks of the Saale river. Experience the tranquility of the place where 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.