Optics, glass and light: the great scientists Carl Zeiss, Otto Schott and Ernst Abbe turned Jena into one of Germany’s leading industrial centers in the second half of the 19th century. This provided the city not only with the laurels of an industrial center, but also with the status of a city of science. The numerous museums of Jena tell about the glorious past and present of the city.

The city of Jena is located in Thuringia, in the valley of the river Saale. The region where Jena is located is sometimes called “Thuringian Tuscany” – for the mild climate created by the ridge of limestone mountains that cover the valley from the wind. Compared to neighboring regions, it is warmer here in winter, and there are no cold nights in summer.

Jena is an old city. The first annalistic references to it date back to 1182. Since the 12th century, the city has become famous for its wines. The products of Jena winemakers were sold in Bavaria, Vogtland, Bohemia. Since 1546, Jena has become a university city – a spiritual and cultural center. Until the middle of the 18th century, the city belonged to various feudal estates.

In the 18th century, Jena became part of the Saxon-Weimar duchy. Since the middle of the 19th century, the city has been the center of the famous German optics. In Jena, the Zeiss enterprise for the production of optical products was created. The plant of Carl Zeiss for many years acquired world significance and great fame. Since 1920, Jena became part of the newly formed state of Thuringia. In 1945, the historic center of Jena was almost completely destroyed by bombing, but in the post-war years the city was restored.

In the 20th century, Jena was an industrial center, but after the unification of the country in 1990, it turned from an industrial city into a center of culture, science, and education.

Today’s Jena is a large, beautiful, developed city. It did not experience depression, unlike other cities in East Germany. After the unification of states in Jena, no population decline was recorded. Many scientific laboratories and institutes have been created in the city; there is a planetarium, an observatory, and a botanical garden. The headquarters of the Carl Zeiss concern still operates here today, but part of the optical production has been transferred to Oberhohen.

Martin Luther preached in Jena in the 16th century. He then lived at the inn “Black Bear” (Schwarzer Bär). The medieval building has gone through several renovations and today it is a functioning hotel.

The Gothic church of St. Michael (Stadtkirche St. Michael), where Luther preached. There is an observation platform on the 80-meter church bell tower, and under the altar there is an underground passage leading to the Cistercian monastery. A memorial bronze plate dedicated to Martin Luther (the work of Lucas Cranach the Elder) was installed in the temple.

The 13th-century Jena Town Hall (Rathaus) is considered one of the oldest German town halls. Above the entrance to the building there is a relief image of a grape brush, reminiscent of the wine-making traditions of Jena. The famous Schnapphans clock is installed on the octagonal tower of the town hall.

In the market square in 1905-08, a monument was erected to Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous, the founder of the University of Jena.

The city has long been surrounded by a fortress wall. A fragment of it with a city gate and a powder tower (XIII-XIV centuries) has survived to this day. The remains of other towers serve as the foundation of residential buildings.

In Jena, it is interesting to visit the Optics Museum (Optische Museum), the Literary House of the Romantics, the Schott Glass Museum of Glass, the Schiller House Museum, which is located in the botanical garden, the house-museum of the zoologist Ernst Haeckel.

Every summer in the city center, the Kulturarena music festival is held, gathering the public for performances by world-famous stars. Performers in genres from ethnic music to jazz come here. In September, a bright, cheerful Old Town Festival takes place – Altstadtfest; In winter, the people of Jena organize Christmas markets.

In the vicinity of Jena, tourists discover beautiful landscapes with many walking and educational routes. Beech forests grow green here, picturesque vineyards grow on the southern slopes. Since 1937, the Leutratal reserve has been created – a protected natural area.

Twelve kilometers from the city – in Dornburg, on the banks of the Saale, there are three ancient castles – North, South and Central. Castles are available for inspection, they have museum expositions.

Jena is the most important high-tech location in Thuringia. A particularly large number of industrial companies are located here, which expect above-average growth in the coming years. Big names like ZEISS, Jenoptik and Schott are world-renowned. But many small and medium-sized companies from Jena are also global players and market leaders in their product area.

More than 10,000 people work in the fields of optics and photonics, health technology, digital economy as well as precision and environmental technology. The Jena University Hospital is the largest employer in the region and pioneering for the strong health sector and social affairs.

The close networking of science and business for the development of innovative products is one of the reasons for Jena’s success. In addition to two universities, numerous federal and state research institutes are also located in Jena.

As a distinct high-tech location, the Jena companies count in the sectors

optics and photonics

healthcare economy

precision engineering

environmental technology and

digital economy

among the world’s leading players. With competencies in these key technologies, the local business landscape and research institutions rely on future viability and innovative strength.

Jena offers attractive framework conditions for successful start-up projects. The close connection between science and research favors start-ups in the high-tech sector and earned Jena the name “German Silicon Valley”. In addition, there is increasing potential in the areas of crafts, services and creative industries.


Technology, science and teaching, entrepreneurial spirit, culture and life in the countryside make Jena an outstanding high-tech location .

The digital economy is a focus of Jena’s economy. Over 3,500 employees in a variety of fields in around 200 companies are working on the digital transformation of the city, especially when it comes to ​​digital business e-commerce technologies R&D. 

Dynamic growth, close networking with the two universities and non-university scientific institutions as well as a strong brand characterize the innovative diversity of the digital economy from Jena, the city of light.

There are also digital experts in the technology sectors of photonics and health technology, in science and in the service sector. This means that around 5,000 people in Jena work on digital solutions for business and society. Amazing and unbelievable unless you really would like to come and visit.

Acting as an international mediator and program coordinator for entreprises round the global Project Alpa Ost gladly will make the business connections in Jena at your request through cooperation in the variety of fields. We will help you analising the contemporary market trends joining the efforts with our German colleagues and partners. Please feel free to mail us for further questions

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