The “small city” of Jena, where nothing is more than a stone’s throw away, is synonymous with a mix of long-standing tradition and a clear forward-looking attitude: Culture and high-tech, internationality, vibrancy as well as leisure and recreation come together to offer the ideal location for diverse interests and lifestyles to connect. No two lives are the same, and Jena is a great place to find common ground.
Jena is young: There are over 23,000 students at Friedrich Schiller University and Ernst Abbe University of Applied Sciences who play a major role in setting the tone for life in the city, which totals around 109,000 inhabitants. It should therefore come as little surprize that half of Jena's residents are under forty and that the city very much lives in rhythm with the University's semesters.
Jena is flourishing: Whether international groups, SMEs or start-ups, high-tech companies, small trade businesses or IT service providers - Jena boasts a healthy economic structure with an emphasis on knowledge-intensive products and services. Highly qualified personnel are always in demand in Jena.
Jena is growing: In contrast to the overriding demographic trend, Jena's population is constantly on the rise, not least as the city offers young families with children a high quality of life. Both universities, numerous members of the dynamic business scene as well as the public services have made it their stated intention to be as family-friendly as possible and work together to achieve this goal within the "Jenaer Bündnis für Familie" ("Jena alliance for families").
Everything within touching distance: From the campus to the gym, from the shops to the concert venue, from the library to leafy walking paths - Jena is a city of short distances. It's rare for anything here to be more than ten minutes away on foot or by bike. Distances are also short in a different sense thanks to the effective networking of science and business, culture (creators) and administrative bodies.
No city in Germany can claim to be as family-friendly as Jena – at least according to the magazine “Wirtschaftswoche” which ranked “the best cities for families” in 2014. The study analysed educational opportunities, child care services, family-friendly services and proximity to nature in 69 German cities. It found that Jena strikes the best balance between economic success and enhancing quality of life.
The "Jenaer Bündnis für Familie" ("Jena alliance for families") is all too aware of the close connections between these two aspects of society: Since 2006, this alliance has been committed to establishing child care services which keep pace with demand as well as family-friendly workplaces and a high quality of life in the city. Numerous employers of all sizes are members of the association, together with administrative bodies and academic institutions. Together, they set up nurseries, offer flexible working time models and offer voluntary support to Jena's newest residents.
The influx of well-qualified personnel, students and scientists as well as rising birth rates indicate that this hard work is paying off: Jena is constantly growing.
In 2014, the city on the Saale was named home to "Germany's best fathers" ("Die Welt", 10 November 2014). Today, 60% of all fathers in Jena take at least two months off from their job to spend time with their new-borns ("Zeit" 3/2017).
Another outstanding figure confirming the city's leading status nationwide - almost 97% of children between the ages of three and six can enjoy all-day child care in Jena. This ratio is also over 50% for younger children.
Jena's education and school offering is also remarkable. It caters for a wide range of different school models and encompasses eleven primary schools, three comprehensive schools, eight interdenominational schools as well as six grammar schools.
The “golden age” of the University in around 1800 brought the great and the good to Jena: Goethe, Schiller, Hegel, Fichte, the Schlegels, Novalis, and many more lived and worked in the city during that period. They left their mark all over town, such as in Schiller’s Garden House, the botanical garden, the Frommann House and the “Romantikerhaus”.
But culture in Jena not only encompasses a rich history but also an incredibly vibrant present. The Theaterhaus theatre company and Jenaer Philharmonie orchestra offer a wide repertoire spanning everything from the classical to the post-modern. Every summer, the six-week "Kulturarena" open air festival attracts thousands of visitors to its concerts, film screenings and theatre performances. In addition to the Jenaer Kunstverein, there are numerous other cultural initiatives peppered throughout the city, such as PENG - the festival for young artists, the short film festival cellu l'art, the intercultural Festival de Colores, the student theatre group ZINK, and the Lichtbildarena, which invites people to get involved or simply sit back and enjoy. Major events like the Long Night of the Sciences and the Long Night of Museums are excellent additions to the city's events calendar. Jena also has lively alternative cultural scene which promotes thinking outside the box.
Jena, although known for its University and sciences, is also a major sporting city. Well-known representatives of Jena includes the male football players of FC Carl Zeiss Jena, the top-class women’s footballers of FF USV Jena, and the basketball players of Science City Jena, all of whom regularly fill stadiums and arenas. Last but not least: Jena’s latest export into the world of top-class sporting achievement – Thomas Röhler, alumnus of the University and Olympic Javelin Champion in 2016.
The Hochschulsport de and Universitätssportverein (USV) clubs offer plenty of options for anyone looking to get active themselves. The vast sports programme covers everything from aerobics, long-distance running, karate, and yoga to more left-field sports like jugger and underwater rugby. Training sessions take place in the generously-sized and state-of-the-art facilities in Oberaue or the USV Dreifelderhalle.
The "Paradies" Park is also located close-by - and, as the name suggests, it's a paradise for skaters and walkers alike. Canoeists will love taking to the waters of the Saale, while hikers and cyclists will also find a great range of tours in the surrounding region. And it's not hard to understand why walking has become something of a national sport in Thuringia if you take a tour along the "Horizontale", where you get plenty of stunning views along the way.
The city of Jena nestles in the central Saale Valley, surrounded by imposing shell limestone and red sandstone slopes towering up to 400 metres high.
These hills store the warmth effectively, helping to maintain the mild climate in the region. This unique feature means that wine growing is even possible here, while rare species of orchids also flourish in local meadows.
Jenzig, Landgraf or Sophienhöhe - Jena offers a choice of local hills, each easily accessible on foot within a few minutes from the city centre.
The "Paradies" section of the Oberaue public park is also in the heart of the city, hugging the course of the Saale for several kilometres. Complete with sports facilities, sunbathing lawns and play areas, the Schleichersee is another great place for recreation within the city limits. For some fresh air during lunchbreak, Jena residents love heading for the University's botanical gardens which grow more than 10,000 different species of plants, or the Griesbachgarten in the heart of the city.
Optics and photonics are the leading technologies in Jena’s industrial sector. Large international groups like Zeiss and Jenoptik call the city home, as do young innovative companies also dedicated to working with “light”.
The first steps towards making Jena a "city of light" were made by the professor Ernst Abbe, the entrepreneur Carl Zeiß, and the physicist Otto Schott in the mid-19th century. With their successful cooperation -- an early example of a public-private partnership -- they set the successful development of Jena in motion, helping the city evolve from a compact agricultural centre into a hub for industry and high-tech.
But it isn't only Jena's companies than use light in its various forms - academic institutions here also focus on this field of study: The Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU) dedicates plenty of research to this topic, positioning it in the University's central research profile lines "Light -- Life -- Liberty". The University of Applied Sciences also addresses light in its various forms, from optical engineering through to photovoltaics. Jena also views itself as a "city of light" in a figurative sense, as a place where the great minds of the Reformation and Enlightenment lived, worked and developed new ideas.
Last but not least, the over 4,500 scientists who work in Jena today contribute to extending the limits of knowledge with their "light ideas" (Friedrich Schiller) on a daily basis.
Thuringia is known as the “green heart” of Germany and Jena is located right in the middle of the state. In other words: Jena is very central.
Rail travellers only need half an hour by train to reach Erfurt, which is a hub for rapid intercity connections travelling in all directions.