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Gera is an independent university town in the east of Thuringia.
After the state capital Erfurt, Gera ranks second in terms of area
and third behind Jena in terms of population in the Free State of
Thuringia. Gera is located in the north of the Vogtland on the White
Elster in the eastern Thuringian hill country at an altitude of
about 200 meters and belongs to the metropolitan region of Central
Germany. Leipzig is about 60 kilometers to the north, Erfurt 80
kilometers to the west, Zwickau about 40 kilometers to the southeast
and Chemnitz about 70 kilometers to the east.
Gera is of historical importance as the state capital of the Principality of Reuss Younger Line (1848 to 1918) and of the People's State of Reuss (1918 to 1920). With the onset of industrialization in the middle of the 19th century, the city experienced great economic and population growth. At the heyday of the fabric and cloth industry, Gera was one of the richest cities in Germany. Over 100 city villas, some of which are very important (for example Villa Schulenburg), bear witness to the splendor and wealth of bygone times. The city also became a transport hub during the 19th century, as numerous railway lines meet at the main train station.
During the Second World War, from May 1944 to April 1945, Gera was partially destroyed by air raids. After the founding of the GDR, the city became the seat of the newly created district of Gera in 1952. Since 1990 it has been part of Thuringia again for administrative purposes and is one of three regional centers here. The city is the seat of the Gera-Eisenach Cooperative State University (until 2016 Gera University of Applied Sciences) and the private SRH University of Health Gera and was the venue for the 2007 Federal Horticultural Show. Since January 2017, the city has officially been named "University City".
The name Gera originally referred to the section of the Elstertal where the city is located today. It was probably built before the Migration Period and was adopted by the Slavs who had lived there since the 8th century. In 995 the name Gera was first mentioned in a border description. In 999 the provincia Gera came into the possession of the Quedlinburg monastery.
In 1209, the Quedlinburg abbess Sophia I von Brehna appointed Heinrich II "the rich" von Weida (* around 1164/1165; † around 1209) from the Weida family to be the administrator of the area, which gave him the title of Vogt, which was then transferred to his descendants as a family name. While his older son Heinrich III. the dominions Weida and Ronneburg received, the second son, Heinrich IV. "the middle" († 1249/1250) got the bailiwick of Gera with the care of Reichenfels and the city of Plauen. In 1238 he called himself “Vogt von Gera”. His two sons founded the lines of the Bailiffs von Gera and the Bailiffs von Plauen. Later there were numerous inheritance divisions. In 1562, after the bailiffs of Gera died out, Gera fell to the Reuss Princely House, which descended from the bailiffs of Plauen. Gera thus became the capital of the Principality of Reuss younger line.
After a settlement with the same name was established in the center of the Gera area in the 12th century, it was granted city status in the early 13th century (before 1237). At first the city developed slowly. In 1450 it was almost completely destroyed in the Saxon civil war.
From 1564 Gera was the royal seat of the younger Reuss line. This time meant a boom for Gera, when the textile industry had gained in importance since the 15th century. Under the sovereign Heinrich Posthumus Reuss the importance of the city increased further. In 1686 and 1780 the city was largely destroyed by fires.
In the 19th century Gera developed into an industrial center. In 1882 Oscar Tietz founded the shop with the money of his rich uncle Hermann Tietz, which over the years would become one of the most successful department store chains - Hertie. Ten years later, in 1892, the Gera tram started operating.
After the abdication of the last prince in the November Revolution of 1918, Gera came to the state of Thuringia in 1920 and formed its largest city.
During the Second World War, from May 1944 to April 1945, Gera experienced a total of ten air raids by the American Air Force. The heaviest attack took place on April 6, 1945, and large parts of the city fell victim to it. A total of 514 people were killed in the attacks.
As of April 14, 1945, Gera, like the rest of Thuringia, was first occupied by the US Army, then by the Soviets from July 2, 1945 and thus became part of the GDR in 1949. In 1952 it became the district capital.
Gera was a focus of the popular uprising on June 17, 1953, which was overthrown by the declaration of a state of emergency using Soviet tanks.
During the GDR era, Gera became a major city through uranium ore mining near Ronneburg, and in 1989 it had the highest population in its history with around 135,000 people. After the reunification, the population fell rapidly and has been below the 100,000 mark since 2009, making Gera a "large medium-sized town".
In 2005 and 2009 the city won gold in the national competition “Our city is in bloom”. From April 27, 2007 to October 14, 2007 the Federal Garden Show 2007 took place in Gera and Ronneburg. It was the first Federal Horticultural Show that took place at two locations at the same time. There were many changes in the cityscape in connection with the Federal Garden Show. In November 2006, the tram line 1 from Untermhaus to Zwötzen went into operation. Gera's historic Hofwiesenpark, the kitchen garden as well as the adjoining orangery and the theater were redesigned or modernized and handed over to their intended use immediately before the Federal Garden Show.
According to official data from the 2011 census, 9.9 percent of Gera's residents were Protestant and 2.6 percent Catholic at that time. 87.4 percent did not belong to either of the two major Christian denominations - the highest figure among all rural districts and cities in Germany.
The population of the city of Gera initially belonged to the
diocese of Naumburg. Quedlinburg Abbey issued a church ordinance for
the city well before 1200. Gera was the seat of a deanery within the
Archdeaconate Zeitz. In 1533 the Reformation was introduced, after
which the city was almost exclusively a Protestant city for many
centuries, with the Lutheran creed predominating. The church shared
the fortunes of the rulers of Reuss: The small "Evangelical Lutheran
Church of the Principality of Reuss Younger Line", whose seat was in
Gera, merged with six other regional churches in Thuringia to form
the "Thuringian Evangelical Church", from which later the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia developed. Gera has been
part of the merged Evangelical Church in Central Germany since 2009.
Within this regional church, Gera is the seat of a regional bishop
for the provost district of Gera-Weimar and within it also the seat
of a superintendent for the parish of Gera. The 13 Evangelical
Lutheran parishes and parishes that exist today all belong to the
In the 19th century, Catholics returned to the city. In 1894 they again founded their own parish and built the Church of St. Elisabeth, to which the Catholics of neighboring towns and communities also belonged. As early as 1903, the factory hall at Nicolaistraße 4 in Gera was converted into a church and consecrated. The church received Saint Elisabeth of Thuringia as the patron saint. 100 years after the inauguration of the “St. Elisabeth “Church, the structure of the former factory hall could no longer be renovated. So the community decided to acquire a nearby plot of land with a Wilhelminian-style parish hall that could be renovated and the building site for a new church. After complex renovations, the parish hall was inaugurated in November 2000; the newly built church was consecrated in November 2003. Today, in addition to the main church, the parish of St. Elisabeth also includes the chapels of St. Jakobus in Gera-Langenberg and the Birth of Mary in Ronneburg. There is also the parish of St. Maximilian Kolbe in Gera with the church of the same name in Lusan, consecrated in 1985. Today the city is the seat of a deanery within the diocese of Dresden-Meißen.
There are also congregations that belong to free churches, including the Evangelical Free Church Congregation (Baptists), the Evangelical Methodist Church Congregation, the Free Evangelical Congregation, the Adventist Church (Adventist), the Evangelical Christian Congregation (Pentecostal Church), the Benjamin Congregation (Forum Life) and the Christian Community.
A New Apostolic congregation, a congregation of the Apostolic Community and Jehovah's Witnesses are also represented in Gera.
Non-Christian religions are hardly represented in Gera. There is an association-run mosque and a Diamond Way Buddhist Center. About 500 people belonged to Judaism during the Weimar Republic; there was a synagogue in the hotel "Kronprinz" on Schülerstrasse and an orthodox synagogue on Hospitalstrasse (today Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse). After 1945, a Jewish community was founded again in Gera, which, however, dissolved after a few years due to the low membership. Today Gera belongs to the Jewish State Community of Thuringia.
Gera is located in the east of the Free State of Thuringia in the valley of the river Weisse Elster and is almost completely enclosed by the district of Greiz; in the north the city borders on Saxony-Anhalt. The border with Saxony is not far either. At the southern city limits (near Wünschendorf) the river emerges from its narrow valley on the eastern edge of the Thuringian Slate Mountains and flows into a wide valley landscape in which the city of Gera spreads. While the western edge of the valley drops relatively steeply, the eastern edge rises gradually. In addition, the outskirts of the city in the west as well as in the south-east of the city area are cut by the valleys of numerous smaller tributaries of the White Elster such as the Gessenbach.
Gera is between 180 m above sea level. NN (bed of the White Elster) and 354 m (near Gera-Falka in the extreme southeast). The height of Geras is 205 m above sea level. NN mostly indicated the height of the market place.
With the Gera city forest in the west of the city area, Gera has the largest contiguous forest area of all Thuringian cities. Another large forest area - an extension of the woodland - is located in the far northwest of the city. In the northeast - behind Aga - is the Zeitzer Forest (Saxony-Anhalt).
The main types of rock represented are limestone and red
sandstone. The oldest rock types are found in the east of the city
and tend to taper to the west. On a line between Niebra, Kaimberg
and Naulitz there are mainly Devonian slates. This is followed by
two Rotliegend zones, especially around Collis and Laasen. While
Zechstein formations are predominantly to be found on the eastern
slopes of the actual core city, the area beyond the Elstertal in the
west of the city is characterized by the Lower Buntsandstein. In the
extreme south-east of the city, the red sandstone area runs across
the Elstertal to Falka and further towards Letzendorf and Pohlen. In
the north of the urban area there are small deposits of brown coal,
which were mined in the 19th century. Nevertheless, the red
sandstone predominates on the slopes east of the Elster, while the
flat areas are mostly covered with loess.
The following communities border the city of Gera. They are called clockwise starting in the northeast:
in the district of Greiz (Thuringia): Pölzig, Hirschfeld, Brahmenau, Schwaara and Korbußen (all administrative community Am Brahmetal), Ronneburg, Kauern, Hilbersdorf, Linda b. Weida, Endschütz and Wünschendorf / Elster (all administrative community Wünschendorf / Elster), Zedlitz, Hundhaupten and Saara (all administrative community Münchenbernsdorf), Kraftsdorf (unitary community), Hartmannsdorf and Bad Köstritz
in the Saale-Holzland-Kreis (Thuringia): Silbitz (administrative community Heideland-Elstertal-Schkölen)
in the Burgenlandkreis (Saxony-Anhalt): Wetterzeube and Gutenborn (Verbandsgemeinde Droyßiger-Zeitzer Forst)
The urban area is divided into 40 districts, which are combined into 12 statistical districts. Some of the districts are also localities or form a locality with other districts. There are 15 localities in Gera with their own local council and a local mayor.
In addition to the old town, which is demarcated by the remains of the city wall and the alley behind the wall, the city center also includes the east quarter and is bordered by the Weißen Elster in the west and by the main train station in the north-west. In the east, the contiguous urban area already closes off with the Leumnitz district bordering the east quarter. In the south, on the east bank of the White Elster, the city center merges into the Pforten district in the winter garden area; To the south is the Zwötzen, which is structurally separated by floodplains and railway embankments. From Zwötzen, a thin, built-up strip leads along the Salzstrasse to Liebschwitz, which belonged to Saxony until 1928. West of the White Elster, across from the city center, begins the elongated district of Debschwitz, which stretches along Wiesestrasse one and a half kilometers south to the prefabricated building district that was built in the 1970s and is still the most populous district of Lusan. The contiguous urban area is completed by Zeulsdorf in the southwest and Röppisch in the south. The Untermhaus district, located on both sides of the White Elster, extends northwest of the main train station and, due to its proximity to the former royal residence, is one of the most elegant districts of Gera. To the east of the railroad tracks, Bieblach, with its distinctive residential developments from the 1950s and 1960s, and Tinz, which extends to the motorway and consists of industrial and commercial areas, are connected to the north of the city center. Bieblach is followed by the village of Roschütz and the Bieblach-Ost prefabricated building area from the 1980s; north of the motorway, the contiguous urban area is closed with Langenberg.
The average annual precipitation from 1961 to 1990 at the Gera-Leumnitz measuring station is 591 mm and is therefore below the German average except in April. The driest month is February, with the most rainfall in June and August.