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Jena (German pronunciation: [ˈjeːna]) is a university city in central Germany on the river Saale. With a population of 103,000 it is the second largest city in the federal state of Thuringia, after Erfurt.
Jena was first mentioned in an 1182 document. In the 11th century it was a possession of the lords of Lobdeburg, but in the following century it developed into an independent market town with laws and magistrates of its own. Economy was based mainly on wine production. In 1286 the Dominicans were established in the city, followed by the Cistercians in 1301.
The margraves of Meißen imposed their authority over Jena in 1331. From 1423 it belonged to Electoral Saxony of the House of Wettin, which had inherited Meißen, remaining with it also after the division of its lands in 1485.
The Protestant Reformation was brought into the city in 1523. In the following years the Dominican and the Carmelite convents were attacked by the townsmen. In 1558, the university was founded by elector John Frederick the Magnanimous.
For a short period (1670–1690), Jena was the capital of an independent dukedom (Saxe-Jena). In 1692 it was annexed to Saxe-Eisenach and in 1741 to the Duchy (later Grand Duchy) of Saxe-Weimar, to which it belonged until 1918.
At the end of the 18th century the university became the largest and most famous within the German states, and made Jena the center of idealistic philosophy (with professors like Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Schiller and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling) and of the early romanticism (with poets like Novalis, the brothers Schlegel and Ludwig Tieck). In 1794 the poets Goethe and Schiller met at the university and established a long lasting friendship.
On 14 October 1806, Napoleon fought and defeated the Prussian army here in the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt. Resistance against the French occupation was strong, especially among the town students, many of whom fought in the Lützow Free Corps in 1813. Two years later the Urburschenschaft fraternity was founded in the city.
At the end of the 19th century, with the building of the railway-line Saalbahn (along the river Saale) from Halle/Leipzig to Nürnberg, Jena became a center for precision machinery, optics and glass making, with the formation of the world famous companies Carl Zeiss Jena and Schott Jenaer Glaswerk, by Carl Zeiss, Ernst Abbe and Otto Schott.
In 1945, towards the end of World War II, Jena was heavily bombed by the American and British Allies. 153 people were killed and most of the medieval town centre was destroyed (though restored after the end of the war).
Part of the State of Thuringia from its foundation in 1920 on, it was incorporated into the German Democratic Republic in 1949 and its district of Gera in 1952. Since 1990, the city of Jena has been a part of the Free State of Thuringia in the united Federal Republic of Germany.
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