Jena is known for its university, Germany's first maternity ward and for Carl Zeiss corporate group, which has always been famous for superior optics. You can see this in the local Optical Museum. It is a city where the Reformation initiator, Martin Luther, preached and the church where he preached was preserved. There is also the City Hall with "Snatching Hans", who was never able to catch an apple! Thuringian cuisine is a separate attraction. Thuringia is known as "the green heart of Germany" because of the abundance of vegetables and fruits in the dishes.
Jena has been known since 1145, though it was granted a city status only a hundred years later and received the appropriate rights. In the Middle Ages the city life actually depended on the successful commercial activities of the three monasteries located here. Monks in monasteries were involved in winemaking, which ensured a steady flow of funds into the city treasury. The city of three monasteries actively adopted the Reformation as a result of Martin Luther’s activities promoted just in these parts. Luther himself repeatedly visited Jena. He preached here from the pulpit of the Cathedral of St. Michael. Black Bear Hotel (Schwarzer Bär), where Luther stayed during visits to Jena, is one of the city's attractions until now.
In 1548 the university was founded in Jena. Gradually, it became the nucleus of the city, attracting intellectuals from all over Europe. It was most popular among the followers of the philosophical current of idealism. At the end of the XVIII century, pillars of idealism like Johann Fichte, Friedrich Schelling, Georg Hegel taught within its walls. During the same period, great German Romantic poets Friedrich Schilling, Novalis, Ludwig Tieck, the Schlegel brothers worked there. Goethe has also been at the university. It is in Jena that Marx defended his thesis a little later.
In 1806, the Battle of Jena- one of the most significant events of the Napoleonic Wars -took place. The emperor of France defeated Prussian troops. Paradoxically, Jena soon became one of the spiritual centers of the unification of the German nations. The historic house of Grüne Tanne is preserved here. At the beginning of the XIX century, it served the Student Union formed by students, who had recently fought in the volunteer battalion of the Prussian Major von Lutzow. The uniforms of the militias were yellow-red-black. They chose the same three colors for their flag. One hundred years later the yellow-red-and-black flag became the flag of the Weimar Republic and at the end of the Second World War was, albeit with some differences, but accepted also by West Germany and East Germany. Now it's again the flag of the united Germany and Jena is considered its birthplace.
Jena is considered a pioneer in the organization of obstetric care for German women. It was in this city that in 1778 Germany’s first maternity hospital was established. It was called the House of Midwives. Its authentic building has not been preserved to this day. But the house, which stands on the site of the first obstetric home, is decorated with a memorial plaque. In the second half of the XIX century, Jena became the center of German optics and precision engineering. Industrialists Carl Zeiss, Ernst Abbe and Otto Schott established the company in the city, which eventually became known under the name Carl Zeiss. Zeiss lens have become synonymous with the highest quality grinding for a long time. In the XX century the group made a contribution to the appearance of the city: the 159m-high tower of Jena (Jentower) - the second highest tower in the GDR -appeared in the center. Carl Zeiss built it for his research center.
In Jena people are interested to visit St. Michael’s Church (Stadtkirche St. Michael), where Luther preached; to tour the Optical Museum and the Planetarium, patronized by Carl Zeiss concern; the house-museum of Schiller (Schiller Haus); look at the old Town Hall with the astronomical clock and Snatching Hans; and climb the tower of Jena.
After walking on the most significant places in Jena, you should also give dues to the local gastronomy. Jena’s restaurants offer the best traditional Thuringian cuisine. This cuisine known as "the green heart of Germany", features a large number of vegetable and fruit dishes. Cooks widely use cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, onions, peas, garlic, and asparagus. Sauces and mushroom gravy are very common. Meat dish lovers will appreciate the Thuringian sausages (Thüringer Bratwurst), which compete with the famous Bavarian sausages. They are served with vegetable side dish- potato dumplings (Thüringer Klöße) or apple or potato pasta (Schleizer Bambser). Rinderrouladen is another local specialty. It is beef roll, which is usually served with round boiled potatoes and cauliflower balls. The main salad of Thuringia is the potato salad (Kartoffelsalat). The main pie served in Jena is the onion pie (Zwiebelkuchen). Blechkuchen is the dessert specialty there. It is dry cakes with berry filling. By the way, the price of food in Jena’s restaurants will pleasantly surprise visitors. After all, it's a small university town and the price scale is far from the prices in the capital.