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History of the City

History of the City

Here is a short history of the city which provides an initial insight into the history of Jena.
You can find more detailed information on the pages
"Chronicle of the city".


The geographical names Iani and Liutdraha appear in a list of places required to pay tax to the Hessian monastery of Hersfeld. This could refer to Jena and the village of Leutra which emerged in Jena in the 14th century – although there is no actual proof of this.


First mention of the Royal Court of Kirchberg (Fuchsturm) as Imperial Palace of the Ottonians.


Landgrave Ludwig III of Thuringia confirms the sale of a forest in Zwätzen, situated by the River Saale between Jena and Dornburg.


Margrave Otto of Meißen confers the tithe of a vineyard on Jenzig Mountain to the Altzelle Monastery.

around 1236

In a document from Hermann von Lobdeburg, which cannot be precisely defined in terms of chronology, “cives” (citizens) are mentioned for the first time. Therefore the document is seen as the first documentary evidence of Jena as a city. It forms the basis for the city anniversaries of 1936 and 1986.


The documentary reference to eight “consules” (councillors) is the first tangible evidence of a city council.

around 1380/90

Start of work on the reconstruction of the City Church of St. Michael. Built on a previous Romanesque construction, one of the largest Gothic city churches in Thuringia is erected over an extended period (up to the middle of the 16th century). Around the same time work started on the building of the town hall, which would be completed by the end of the 14th century.


Alongside low court jurisdiction and customs the city is conferred high court jurisdiction for the first time by the sovereign prince.


Jena becomes a centre of the Reformation. Reformatory texts are printed in Jena by Michel Buchführer. Luther debates with Karlstadt in Jena. In April/May 1525 there is peasant unrest. The two Dominican and Carmelite monasteries are looted.


On 2 February the University of Jena is opened. The first Rector is the doctor Johannes Schröter.


A court of lay assessors is set up in the Faculty of Law at the university.


The city is involved in the turmoil of the 30 Year’s War. In 1636/37 Jena is looted by Swedish troops. The Camsdorf Bridge (Camsdorfer Brücke) is destroyed during the approach of Imperial troops. In 1650 a great festival of peace celebrates the end of the war.


The mathematician, philosopher and teacher Erhard Weigel receives a professorship at the university. Alongside him the theologian Johann Musaeus and the jurist Georg Adam Struve are amongst the most famous teachers at the university in the second half of the 17th century, which at this time is one of the most attended German universities.


After a division of territory the independent Duchy of Saxony-Jena emerges under Duke Bernhard. Jena becomes the State Capital and Seat of Royal Residence.


The first edition of the newspaper “Jenaischen Wöchentlichen Anzeigen” by the publisher Johann Ludwig Neuenhahn appears. In the 17th and 18th centuries Jena becomes the second centre of book printing in Germany, after Leipzig.


Until 1721 the university is the most attended in Protestant Germany with around 2,000 students.


In Jena Goethe discovers the intermaxillary bone in humans.


Friedrich Schiller holds his inaugural speech as Associate Professor for History.

around 1800

Jena and its university form an intellectual and cultural centre: Goethe, Schiller, Fichte, Hegel, Feuerbach, Schelling, Hufeland and the circle of Early Romantics with Tieck, the brothers August Wilhelm and Friedrich Schlegel, Caroline Schlegel and Dorothea Veit all have a major influence.


In the double battle of Jena and Auerstedt the Prussian Army and their allies suffer a crushing defeat at the hands of the French on 14 October. Jena suffers greatly under French billeting before and after the battle. On 15 October Napoleon meets representatives of the city and the university in Jena Castle.


In the restaurant “Zur grünen Tanne” the original student fraternity, the “Urburschenschaft“, is formed. In 1817 the “Wartburg Festival” is celebrated on the initiative of Jena student fraternity members and with the involvement of the Jena professors Oken, Kieser and Fries.


Carl Zeiß from Weimar opens a “mechanical workshop” in Jena, which constructs and repairs equipment, in particular microscopes, for scientific and medical research at the university.


The mathematician and physicist Ernst Abbe becomes a research assistant to Carl Zeiß and prepares the scientific basis for the building of the microscope.


With the Saalbahn and the Weimar-Gera railway Jena is connected to the railway network.


The glass technologist Otto Schott founds the “Glastechnische Laboratorium Schott & Genossen” together with Carl Zeiß and Ernst Abbe.


Following the death of Carl Zeiß the private enterprise is transformed into a foundation company by Ernst Abbe. The supplementary statute of the “Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung” (1900) generously increases the annual financial funding of the university.


Formation of the Jena Society of Arts.


The new main building of the university (architect Theodor Fischer) is officially opened on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the formation of the university.


Official opening of the Ernst Abbe Monument by Henry van de Velde with works by Max Klinger and Constantin Meunier.


The former Ernestine Comprehensive University becomes the “Thuringian State University” after the dissolution of the individual states of Thuringia and the formation of the State of Thuringia.


Following Wenigenjena, Lichtenhain and Ziegenhain, which were incorporated before World War I, the villages of Ammerbach, Löbstedt, Zwätzen, Winzerla and Burgau become part of the city of Jena.


Jena opens the Zeiss Planetarium.


In the local council elected on 5 March, the 13 members of the National Socialist Worker’s Party (NSDAP) make it the strongest party. Dr. Alexander Elsner is removed from his position as mayor.
Following the “Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” Jewish university professors are dismissed or suspended. A Hereditary Health Court is set up in Jena.


The name of the university changes to the “Friedrich Schiller University” on the occasion of his 175th birthday.


During the November pogrom the remaining Jewish businesses are closed. In 1925 there were 277 members of the Jewish community, while in 1939 the number is reduced to just 50. A number of Jewish citizens manage to emigrate abroad. Deportations to the Fascist death camps took place from the West train station.


In February/March the city is subject to heavy bombing in which over 700 people die. 15% of the city’s building infrastructure is destroyed. On 13 April American troops occupy the city. From the beginning of July Soviet military authorities take over the right of occupation. In October 1945 the university resumes its teaching programme. In 1946, following an order by the occupying power, the companies Zeiss and Schott are almost completely dismantled. By 1949 the clearance of rubble in the city centre is largely completed.


On 17 June there are massive protests against the measures of the GDR government in Jena. Around 20,000 citizens are involved in the demonstrations.  A state of emergency is declared and around 500 people are arrested. The locksmith Alfred Diener is summarily executed.


The first building stage of the housing development Neulobeda-West begins. By 1975 around 5,600 prefabricated accommodation units are built.


As part of the redesign of the city centre of Jena the construction of the university building begins (planned as the Zeiss research building). Large sections of the historic city centre between Eichplatz and Kollegiengasse are pulled down.


Beginning of construction of the housing development Lobeda-Ost. Up to 1983 over 8,500 flats are built.


Jena has 100,000 inhabitants and is awarded major city status.


Beginning of construction of the housing development Jena-Winzerla. By the end of the decade around 5,500 flats are built.


Jena becomes the place of origin for a peace movement, which under the solution “Swords to Ploughshares”, calls for a ban on weapons in East and West.


End of September/beginning of October opposition parties and movements are formed. Intercession masses and demonstrations take place from October. On 4 November around 40,000 citizens of Jena take part in a large public demonstration. On 1 December the first “round table” discussion takes place. In the first free local elections in May 1990 the CDU is the strongest party in the city council. Dr. Peter Röhlinger becomes the new mayor.

from 1990

Restoration work begins in the city centre taking aspects of preservation into consideration. The Damenviertel district with buildings from around 1900 is declared an area of listed buildings.


Through territorial reforms the surface area and the number of inhabitants in the city of Jena grows considerably. From now on Cospeda, Closewitz, Drackendorf, Isserstedt, Jenaprießnitz, Krippendorf, Kunitz, Laasan, Maua, Münchenroda and Vierzehnheiligen all belong to Jena.


On the grounds of the former Zeiss main plant the arcade “Goethe Galerie” and the new campus of the Friedrich Schiller University are built.


Laying of the foundation stone for the Klinikum 2000 in Lobeda-Ost, which is officially opened in 2004.


The faithfully reconstructed Renaissance dome (destroyed in 1945) is attached to the tower of the City Church of St. Michael.


The JenTower, measuring 159 metres, becomes the highest building in the new Federal States of Germany.


In the first "Long Night of the Sciences" more than 80 institutes, clinics and companies are represented in over 300 events.


In the Franco-German Year Jena celebrates Thuringia Day and commemorates the 200 year anniversary of the Battle of Jena and Auerstedt.


The Jena Volksbad is used as an event venue following its reconstruction.


The university celebrates its 450 year anniversary. The highlight of the anniversary year is the ceremony on 15 May in which many Rectors of traditional European universities take part.
Under the central theme “Knowledge and Growth – Made in Jena” the city is named “City of Science 2008“.


The tower sphere and the weathervane are once again placed on top of the Jena town hall tower. In the tower sphere there are one small and four large capsules with newspapers, documents and coins from various periods of history.
With a festival from 29 June to 4 July the Jena inn "Roter Hirsch" celebrates its 500 year anniversary.


The large-scale exterior restoration of the City Church of St Michael is completed.

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