Thuringian Forest & the Saale Valley

One of the oldest maintained town halls in Germany, Jena’s Rathaus (1377) is graced with an astronomical clock in its baroque tower. Every hour, on the hour, a little door opens and a devil/fool called Schnapphans ('snatching Hans') appears, fruitlessly trying to catch a golden ball representing the human soul in his mouth. The square itself is anchored by a statue of Prince-Elector Johann Friedrich I, founder of Jena’s university and popularly known as ‘Hanfried’.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Thuringian Forest & the Saale Valley attractions

1. Stadtmuseum & Kunstsammlung Jena

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This handsome fachwerk townhouse at the northern end of the market square dates in part to the 13th century. It now houses the Stadtmuseum (city museum)…

2. Stadtkirche St Michael

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This late-Gothic church, one of the largest in Thuringia, is famous for having Martin Luther’s original bronze gravestone, modelled on a portrait by Lucas…

3. Universität Jena – Collegium Jenense

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Jena’s university faculties are spread throughout town, but this was where the university was founded as Collegium Jenense in 1548, in a former Dominican…

4. JenTower

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Built in 1972, but deceptively modern in appearance, the 128m-tall cylindrical JenTower was intended to be a Zeiss research facility, but proved…

5. Botanischer Garten

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Goethe himself planted the ginkgo tree in these wonderful botanic gardens, which have grown since their inception in 1794 to a collection of more than 12…

6. Schillers Gartenhaus

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Goethe is credited with recruiting Schiller to Jena University in 1789. The poet, playwright and philosopher enjoyed Jena so much that he stayed for 10…

7. Zeiss Planetarium

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The world’s oldest public planetarium (1926) has a state-of-the-art dome projection system, making it a heavenly setting for cosmic laser shows paying…

8. Optisches Museum

0.36 MILES

Carl Zeiss began building rudimentary microscopes in 1846 and, with Ernst Abbe’s help, developed the first scientific microscope in 1857. Together with…