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Jena is located in the federal state of Thuringia. After Erfurt it is the largest city in the federal state. Its location in the Saale valleys shapes the urban landscape, whereby several domes and hill formations have emerged. If Jena was a purely industrial city during the GDR time, and it was of large importance due to the company owned by Carl Zeiss, today it is surely a major education and science centre in Germany.
Jena´s position in the heart of Germany facilitates good transport connections. The motorway A 4 passes directly by the city area. The A 9 can also be easily reached. From Jena you need to factor in a journey time of around 45 minutes to the nearest airport in Erfurt, the airports in Leipzig/Halle and Altenburg also lie around only 1 hour away from Jena. If you are travelling by train, you can use many ICE and IC connections.
Jena is divided into 30 urban districts. The majority of them are villages that have become incorporated into Jena over the last few years. One of those districts is Closewitz. The village, which has been in existence since the medieval times, was shaped by agriculture and forestry for many years. Today 140 people live in Closewitz, the farmsteads stand empty. Neulobeda is the district with the largest amount of inhabitants in Jena. It sprung up in 1964 in order to provide affordable living space with district heating for the employers of the Carl Zeiss Company. The district also has the nickname of prefabricated building/ satellite city, which can be traced back to the many prefabricated buildings. After the reunification, it was considered to be a troubled neighbourhood and thus the city had to improve the living situation. Along with this project, new housing developments and an improved infrastructure for its inhabitants were put in place.
Although Jena´s history reaches back to around 830, there are hardly any historical tourist attractions present in the city. They were either destroyed by attacks during the Second World War or they fell victim to Socialist ideas. The landmark of the city is the Jentower. It is the highest office building in the new federal states. The tower stands proudly at 160 meters high and it was built between 1969 and 1972 by one of the most well-known architects of the GDR period. The building was planned to be a research centre for the Carl Zeiss Company but it proved to be unsuitable for this. Thus, the university was housed in it, however, in 1995 it decided to be no longer accommodated in the tower. Today it is mainly occupied by businesses.
It is also worth seeing the die Sieben Wunder von Jena „The Seven Wonders of Jena“ , which the city promoted as early as the Middle Ages. Four of them are still completely preserved today. The seven wonders constitute: the altar of the Stadtkirche St.Michael, the head of the highwayman on the art clock of the town hall, the dragon on Benzig Mountain, the old Camsdorf Bridge, today its successor stands in the same place, the Fox Tower, the Castle Keep from the former Burg Kirchberg “Castle Kirchberg” on the Hausberg and the Weigel House that no longer exists today.
Jena is deemed as the cradle of the optics industry. For this reason, a museum was also erected on this theme in the urban area, it is situated at Carl-Zeiß-Platz and it is open on Tuesday´s to Friday´s between 10am and 4.30pm. The museum will give you an insight into the last 5 centuries during which time the optical industry has somewhat developed. You will see the instruments for it such as glasses, telescopes, microscopes and cameras. You can test your own visual capacity and you can look at three dimensional holograms. The exhibition is topped off with the historical workplace of Carl Zeiss where you will gain knowledge about the workshops in the 19th Century.
Both of the poets Friedrich Schiller and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are closed linked to the city of Jena. Take a look at the Schillers Gartenhaus „Schiller´s Garden House“, in which he wrote works such as Wallenstein or Maria Stuart. Today, there is a museum on the lower floor which gives you a glimpse into the life of Schiller´s Jena years. The upper level has been preserved to be as it was when Schiller inhabited it. There are even some period furnishings here that belonged to Schiller himself. The memorial for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is located in the botanical garden.
If you want to while away the evening in Jena, you should make a detour to the Wagnergasse. Here is where the night life in Jena takes place. There are rows upon rows of public, bars and cafes, where you will certainly find a place to sit.
You will experience unforgettable food in the Jenatower. Here you can eat well at 128 meters high above the rooves of the city. The Scala Turm Restaurant offers you meals with various courses on a daily basis from 12 midday until 2pm. From Monday´s to Friday´s you have the possibility to opt for the lunch buffet, you can also choose from the menu which amongst other things, offers a beef filet steak with side orders for 33 euros.
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