Gera, the third-largest city in the German state of Thuringia
The Free State of Thuringia is a state of Germany, located in the central part of the country.It has an area of and 2.29 million inhabitants, making it the sixth smallest by area and the fifth smallest by population of Germany's sixteen states....

 (after Erfurt
Erfurt is the capital city of Thuringia and the main city nearest to the geographical centre of Germany, located 100 km SW of Leipzig, 150 km N of Nuremberg and 180 km SE of Hannover. Erfurt Airport can be reached by plane via Munich. It lies in the southern part of the Thuringian...

, the Thuringian capital, and Jena
Jena is a university city in central Germany on the river Saale. It has a population of approx. 103,000 and is the second largest city in the federal state of Thuringia, after Erfurt.-History:Jena was first mentioned in an 1182 document...

), lies in east Thuringia on the river Weiße Elster
Weiße Elster
The White Elster or Weisse Elster is a long river in central Europe, right tributary of the Saale. Its source is in the westernmost part of the Czech Republic, near Aš. After a few kilometres, it flows into eastern Germany...

, approximately 60 kilometres to the south of the city of Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

 and 80 kilometres to the east of Erfurt. Gera had a population of approximately 102,000.


Gera lies at a height of between 180 metres (the level of the White Elster river) and 354 m (1,161.42 ft) (when measured at Gera-Falka at the furthest southeastern point). Usually the height above sea level
Above mean sea level
The term above mean sea level refers to the elevation or altitude of any object, relative to the average sea level datum. AMSL is used extensively in radio by engineers to determine the coverage area a station will be able to reach...

 for the city appears as 205 m (672.57 ft) when measured at the market place.

The largest city forest of all the towns of Thuringia, called the City Forest of Gera (Geraer Stadtwald), stands on the western edge of the city. Another forested tract borders on the northwest city boundary. The Zeitzer Forest in Saxony-Anhalt
Saxony-Anhalt is a landlocked state of Germany. Its capital is Magdeburg and it is surrounded by the German states of Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia.Saxony-Anhalt covers an area of...

 is situated just northeast of the city.


The place name Gera originally referred to the area of the Elster river valley where the city now stands. The name most likely originated before the European migration period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

 – the Slavic people who first settled the area during the 8th century adopted the name. The first known documentary mention of Gera dates from 995.

In 999 Emperor Otto III
Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto III , a King of Germany, was the fourth ruler of the Saxon or Ottonian dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire. He was elected King in 983 on the death of his father Otto II and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 996.-Early reign:...

 assigned the "province" of Gera to the Quedlinburg Abbey
Quedlinburg Abbey
Quedlinburg Abbey was a house of secular canonesses in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It was founded in 936 on the initiative of Saint Mathilda, the widow of Henry the Fowler, as his memorial...

. In turn, the church assigned the protectorship of this area in 1209 to the Vogt
A Vogt ; plural Vögte; Dutch voogd; Danish foged; ; ultimately from Latin [ad]vocatus) in the Holy Roman Empire was the German title of a reeve or advocate, an overlord exerting guardianship or military protection as well as secular justice...

s of Weida
Weida, Thuringia
Weida is a town in the district of Greiz, in Thuringia, Germany, situated 12 km south of Gera.-External links:*...

 (in German: Vögte von Weida) who served as its administrators. The settlement of Gera acquired the rights of a city later in the 13th century. At first, the city grew only slowly. In 1450, it was almost totally destroyed during the Saxon Fratricidal War
Saxon Fratricidal War
The Saxon Fratricidal War was a war fought between the two brothers Frederick II, Elector of Saxony and Duke William III over Wettin ruled areas from 1446 to 1451...

. Through inheritance over the following centuries, Gera eventually became part of the Reuss
Reuss was the name of several historical states located in present-day Thuringia, Germany. Its rulers, the Reuss family, named all of their male children Heinrich after the end of the 12th century in honour of Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor , to whom they owed the estates of Weida and Gera...


In 1806 Napoleon set up his Imperial Headquarters at Gera during the War of the Fourth Coalition
War of the Fourth Coalition
The Fourth Coalition against Napoleon's French Empire was defeated in a war spanning 1806–1807. Coalition partners included Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and the United Kingdom....

. From here, on October 12, 1806, the French Emperor sent an arrogant and threatening letter to King Frederick William III of Prussia
Frederick William III of Prussia
Frederick William III was king of Prussia from 1797 to 1840. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel .-Early life:...

 – a letter that led directily to war and to the crushing defeat of Prussia at the Battle of Jena a few days later.

From 1848 to 1918 Gera served as the capital of the Reuss Junior Line
Reuss Junior Line
The Principality of Reuss Younger Line formed a state in Germany, ruled by members of the House of Reuss. The Counts Reuss of Gera, of Schleiz, of Lobenstein, of Köstritz and of Ebersdorf, each became princes in 1806, and they and their reigning successors bore the title Prince Reuss, Younger Line...

 principality. With the industrial revolution in the middle of the 19th century, Gera enjoyed rapid growth through its textile industry. The many city villas built in that era still testify to the former wealth of the city. The Schulenburg mansion designed by the Belgian artist Henry van de Velde
Henry van de Velde
Henry Clemens Van de Velde was a Belgian Flemish painter, architect and interior designer. Together with Victor Horta and Paul Hankar he could be considered one of the main founders and representatives of Art Nouveau in Belgium...

 is an example. The city became a railway centre where many rail lines converged — highlighting its importance.
In 1920 the city became part of the newly founded state of Thuringia.

Aerial bombing destroyed some parts of the city in 1945.

The city became a part of the newly created District of Gera (Bezirk Gera) in 1952 within the German Democratic Republic
German Democratic Republic
The German Democratic Republic , informally called East Germany by West Germany and other countries, was a socialist state established in 1949 in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany, including East Berlin of the Allied-occupied capital city...

 (East Germany). After the German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

 in 1990, Gera became part of the restored state of Thuringia — one of three metropolitan centres (Oberzentren) along with Jena and Erfurt. Since 1998, the Vocational Academy of Gera has found its home here, as well as a private school for allied health sciences. The city hosted the biennial federal horticultural show (Bundesgartenschau
The Bundesgartenschau is the biennial Federal horticulture show in Germany. It also covers topics like landscaping. Taking place in different cities, the location changes in a two-year cycle....

) in 2007.

Economy and labour

the city economy features the private health sector (SRH Waldklinikum), industrial machinery (Dagro Gera GmbH), communications (DTKS GmbH, Deutsche Telekom AG), security locks (Schloßsicherungen Gera GmbH), optics (POG Präzisionsoptik Gera GmbH), electrical equipment (Electronicon Kondensatoren GmbH), and margarine manufacturing (Othüna). Other companies include a compressor manufacturer (Kompressorenwerk Kaeser), a precision-tool maker (SMK-Präzisionsmechanik), and a subsidiary of the construction company Max Bögl. The e-commerce service provider D+S Europe has a service centre in Gera with several hundred workers, and Rittal, a manufacturer of information technology enclosures, moved from Bad Köstritz to Gera.

Some industrial branches operating before 1990 no longer have major importance. Sectors that either no longer exist or have been sharply reduced include those in toolmaking (VEB
Volkseigener Betrieb
The Volkseigener Betrieb was the legal form of industrial enterprise in East Germany...

 Wema Union), textiles (VEB Modedruck), textile machinery (VEB Textima), electronic equipment (VEB Elektronik Gera). Other industries that had a presence included VEB Carl Zeiss Jena and a brewery. One important industrial branch had been uranium-ore mining in nearby Ronneburg (SDAG Wismut
SDAG Wismut
The SAG/SDAG Wismut was a uranium mining company in East Germany producing 230,400 tonnes of uranium between 1947 and 1990. In 1991 it was transformed into the Wismut GmbH owned by the state of Germany which is now responsible for the recultivation of the former mining and milling areas...


The East Thuringia/Gera metropolitan area as a whole has a population of 450,000. This makes Gera a regional commercial centre for retail. By 2003, the town had three major retail centres: Gera-Arcaden, Amthor-Passage, and Elster-Forum.

Though the third-largest city in Thuringia, Gera ranks in 7th place in terms of unemployment. The unemployment rate decreased from 15.4% in June 2007 to 14.9% in March 2009.

City organization

The city has 40 different communities, distributed amongst 12 municipal districts as follows:
  1. City Center
  2. Debschwitz
  3. Gera-Langenberg
  4. Bieblach-East
  5. Bieblach/Tinz
  6. Untermhaus
  7. Frankentahl
  8. Lusan
  9. Rubitz/Milbitz/Thieschitz

Main sights

Sights in Gera include:

  • Town Hall (1576, Renaissance
    The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

  • Market Square
    Market square
    The market square is a feature of many European and colonial towns. It is an open area where market stalls are traditionally set out for trading, commonly on one particular day of the week known as market day....

     with Simson-fountain
    A fountain is a piece of architecture which pours water into a basin or jets it into the air either to supply drinking water or for decorative or dramatic effect....

  • Osterstein Castle, Gera (largely destroyed 1945)
  • City Pharmacy
  • Theater (1902)
  • Villa Schulenburg, designed by Henry van de Velde
    Henry van de Velde
    Henry Clemens Van de Velde was a Belgian Flemish painter, architect and interior designer. Together with Victor Horta and Paul Hankar he could be considered one of the main founders and representatives of Art Nouveau in Belgium...

  • St. Johannis church (Neo-Gothic)
  • St. Salvator church (Baroque
    Baroque architecture
    Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

     with Art Nouveau
    Art Nouveau
    Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that were most popular during 1890–1910. The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art"...

     interior decoration)
  • St. Marien church (Late Gothic)
  • St. Trinitatis church (Late Gothic)
  • Old beer cellars called "Geraer Höhler"
  • Zoo Gera (since 1973)

Museums in Gera include:
  • City Museum
  • Otto Dix
    Otto Dix
    Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix was a German painter and printmaker, noted for his ruthless and harshly realistic depictions of Weimar society and the brutality of war. Along with George Grosz, he is widely considered one of the most important artists of the Neue Sachlichkeit.-Early life and...

  • Art Galley "Orangerie"
  • Museum of Natural History ("Schreiber House", the oldest building in the city), with its adjacent botanical garden
    Botanical garden
    A botanical garden The terms botanic and botanical, and garden or gardens are used more-or-less interchangeably, although the word botanic is generally reserved for the earlier, more traditional gardens. is a well-tended area displaying a wide range of plants labelled with their botanical names...

    , the Botanischer Garten Gera
    Botanischer Garten Gera
    The Botanischer Garten Gera , also known as the Botanischer Garten der Museum für Naturkunde Gera, is a botanical garden located on the grounds of the Museum für Naturkunde der Stadt Gera at Nicolaistrasse 6, Gera, Thuringia, Germany...

  • Museum for Applied Arts ("Ferber House"), displays collections of Bauhaus
    ', commonly known simply as Bauhaus, was a school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. It operated from 1919 to 1933. At that time the German term stood for "School of Building".The Bauhaus school was founded by...

     ceramics by the artists Otto Lindig
    Otto Lindig
    Otto Lindig was a German master potter who was a student and later a workshop manager at the famous Bauhaus art school in Weimar, Germany.-Background:Lindig was born in Pößneck, Germany...

     und Theodor Bogler; architectural works of Thilo Schoder; and photographs by Aenne Biermann
    Aenne Biermann
    Aenne Biermann born Anna Sibilla Sternfeld was a German photographer of Ashkenazi origin. She was one of the major proponents of New Objectivity, a significant art movement that developed in Germany in the 1920s.- Biography :Aenne Biermann was born on March 8, 1898 in Goch, a town in North...


In 2007 Gera, together with Ronneburg
Ronneburg, Thuringia
Ronneburg is a town in the district of Greiz, in Thuringia, Germany. It is situated 7 km east of Gera.-External links:*...

, is venue of the Bundesgartenschau
The Bundesgartenschau is the biennial Federal horticulture show in Germany. It also covers topics like landscaping. Taking place in different cities, the location changes in a two-year cycle....

 (the federal horticultural show).


In the eastern part of Gera lies the airfield Gera-Leumnitz. The nearest airport is Leipzig-Altenburg (approx. 40 km). The Leipzig-Halle
Leipzig/Halle Airport
Leipzig/Halle Airport, sometimes called Schkeuditz Airport , is located in Schkeuditz, Saxony and serves both Leipzig, Saxony and Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.It has more than two million passengers per year....

 airport, with its with many international destinations, is about 90 km north of Gera.

There is a city tram/bus system run by the GVB (Geraer Verkehrsbetrieb).

International relations

Gera is twinned
Town twinning
Twin towns and sister cities are two of many terms used to describe the cooperative agreements between towns, cities, and even counties in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.- Terminology :...

Arnhem is a city and municipality, situated in the eastern part of the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of Gelderland and located near the river Nederrijn as well as near the St. Jansbeek, which was the source of the city's development. Arnhem has 146,095 residents as one of the...

, Netherlands Fort Wayne
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Fort Wayne is a city in the US state of Indiana and the county seat of Allen County. The population was 253,691 at the 2010 Census making it the 74th largest city in the United States and the second largest in Indiana...

, United States Goražde
Goražde , is a city and municipality in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina on the Drina river. It is located between Foča, Sokolac and Višegrad, and is administratively part of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the center of the Bosnian Podrinje Canton.-Location:Goražde is situated on the...

, Bosnia and Herzegovina Kuopio
Kuopio is a city and a municipality located in the region of Northern Savonia, Finland. A population of makes it the ninth biggest city in the country. The city has a total area of , of which is water and half forest...

Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

, Germany Plzeň, Czech Republic Pskov
Pskov is an ancient city and the administrative center of Pskov Oblast, Russia, located in the northwest of Russia about east from the Estonian border, on the Velikaya River. Population: -Early history:...

, Russia Rostov-on-Don
-History:The mouth of the Don River has been of great commercial and cultural importance since the ancient times. It was the site of the Greek colony Tanais, of the Genoese fort Tana, and of the Turkish fortress Azak...

, Russia
Saint-Denis is a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the centre of Paris. Saint-Denis is a sous-préfecture of the Seine-Saint-Denis département, being the seat of the Arrondissement of Saint-Denis....

, France Skierniewice
Skierniewice is a town in central Poland with 49,132 inhabitants , situated in the Łódź Voivodship , previously capital of Skierniewice Voivodship . It is the capital of Skierniewice County. The town is situated almost exactly half-way between Łódź and Warsaw.Skierniewice gained municipal rights...

, Poland Sliven
Sliven is the eighth-largest city in Bulgaria and the administrative and industrial centre of Sliven Province and municipality. It is a relatively large town with 89,848 inhabitants, as of February 2011....

, Bulgaria Timişoara
Timișoara is the capital city of Timiș County, in western Romania. One of the largest Romanian cities, with an estimated population of 311,586 inhabitants , and considered the informal capital city of the historical region of Banat, Timișoara is the main social, economic and cultural center in the...

, Romania

Notable natives

  • Johann Heinrich Gottfried Koch, (1705–1775)
  • Heinrich Gustav Beck, (1857–1933), Minister-president
    A minister-president is the head of government in a number of European countries or subnational governments, in which a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government prevails, who presides over the council of ministers...

     of Saxony
    The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

  • Otto Dix
    Otto Dix
    Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix was a German painter and printmaker, noted for his ruthless and harshly realistic depictions of Weimar society and the brutality of war. Along with George Grosz, he is widely considered one of the most important artists of the Neue Sachlichkeit.-Early life and...

     (1891–1969), artist
  • Rudolf Paul
    Rudolf Paul
    Dr. Rudolf Paul was a German politician.He studied law in Berlin and Leipzig and practiced as a lawyer in Gera. He was a member of the German Democratic Party until its dissolution in 1933. Under the Nazi Regime, he was banned from his profession.Paul was appointed as mayor of Gera on May 7, 1945...

    , (1893–1978), President of Thuringia 1945–1947
  • Karl Weschke, (1925–2005), painter
  • Georg Buschner
    Georg Buschner
    Georg Buschner was an East German football player and manager.He earned 6 caps for the East Germany national football team between 1954 and 1957, and later coached the team from 1970 to 1981...

    , (1925–2007), head coach East Germany national football team
  • Max Frankel
    Max Frankel
    Max Frankel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.Frankel came to the United States in 1940. He attended Columbia College and began part-time work for The New York Times in his sophomore year. He received his B.A. degree in 1952 and an M.A. in American government from Columbia in 1953.He joined...

    , (born 1930), executive editor, New York Times 1986–1994
  • Helga Königsdorf, (born 1938), mathematician and author
  • Thilo Sarrazin
    Thilo Sarrazin
    Thilo Sarrazin is a German politician and former member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank...

    , (born 1945), German politician
  • Marlies Göhr
    Marlies Göhr
    Marlies Göhr is a former East German athlete, the winner of the 100 m at the inaugural World Championships in 1983. She ranked in the top 10 of the 100 m world rankings for twelve straight years, ranking first in six of those years...

    , (born 1958), athlete
  • Olaf Ludwig
    Olaf Ludwig
    Olaf Ludwig is a former German racing cyclist. His career began at the SG Dynamo Gera/ Sportvereinigung Dynamo. As an East German, he raced as an amateur until reunification of Germany allowed him to become professional with Panasonic team...

    , (born 1960), racing cyclist
  • Wolfgang Tiefensee
    Wolfgang Tiefensee
    Wolfgang Tiefensee is a German SPD politician. He was the Federal Minister for Transport, Building and Urban Development in the grand coalition cabinet led by Angela Merkel since November 22, 2005....

    , (born 1955), politician
  • Heike Drechsler
    Heike Drechsler
    Heike Gabriela Drechsler née Daute is a German track and field athlete. She is one of the most successful female long jumpers of all time and also had several successes in sprint disciplines.She is the only woman who has won two Olympic gold medals in the long jump...

    , (born 1964), Olympic gold medalist long jumper
  • Jens Heppner
    Jens Heppner
    Jens Heppner is a German former road bicycle racer. He wore the maglia rosa during 2002 Giro d'Italia. Although he rode for Telekom during ten years, he has consistently denied ever having doped.- Palmarès :...

    , (born 1964), racing cyclist

External links

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