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Jena in Europe

Our city on the Saale gladly welcomes guests and friends from all over Europe who bring their cultures, traditions, knowledge, commitment or simply their pure joy of life to Jena.

Also in the opposite way, our city, its organizations and institutions and of course the citizens of Jena are always eager to let also a part of our cultural, scientific and social characteristics and know-how flow into the European Union. Thanks to numerous alliances, cooperations and joint projects with European countries, municipalities and partners in a musical, historical or scientific context, a contribution is made to a sustainable, diverse and rich European Federation.

On this page you can get an overview of how and where our Jena presents itself in Europe.

The European Association of Napoleonic Cities is an association of European cities whose history was shaped by Napoleon Bonaparte. Jena is a founding member and took over the German vice-presidency in the founding year 2004.

Aims & Tasks

The European Association of Napoleon Cities was born out of the desire of various European cities to present their common historical heritage in a European context and to promote exchange between Napoleon cities.

The differentiated and intensive examination of European history and the heritage of Napoleon is an important contribution to the common culture of the European people.

The activities of the association of cities focus on three important fields of action:

  • The promotion of scientific exchange on the history of Napoleon through events, conferences and seminars as well as through joint publications with universities, cultural institutions and history-related associations.
  • Support for the preservation of cultural heritage, including the restoration and renovation of monuments, memorials, objects, works of art and historical sites.
  • Activities for the examination of the Napoleonic heritage in the general public through exhibitions, artistic events and expeditions, especially school and university exchange as well as tourism are promoted.

Napoleon in Jena

The Association of Napoleonic Cities, the city of Jena and the Zeiss-Planetarium Jena will provide an insight into the little piece of world history that took place on our doorstep at the Battle of Jena and Auerstedt in 1806 from 2020 onwards.

The new performance in the Zeiss Planetarium around Napoleon's invasion, will be presented in modern full-dome technology and offers a mix of historical facts and technological special effects. The trailer for this spectacle can be found further down the page - it's worth taking a look! The Zeiss-Planetarium is a good starting point for a journey on Napoleon's tracks in Jena. Not far away, northwest of Jena on the Windknollen, is the Napoleon Stone and thus the starting point for the battle of over 200 years ago.

Similar projects in cinemas or planetariums are also to be realized in other Napoleon cities, so that Jena - as so often - serves as a pioneer for modern and creative innovations.

The Cooperation Network of European Medium-sized Cities was founded on 22.09.1995 on the initiative of the city of St. Pölten. St. Pölten is the capital of Lower Austria and the coordination office of the European medium-sized cities is also located here.

Besides St. Pölten, the founding members were Innsbruck, Passau, Bolzano, Maribor, Székesfehérvar, Ceske Budejovice, Trnava, Brno and our Jena. Today the network counts 34 members from 13 European countries, such as Germany, France, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary or Croatia and Albania.

The European Network of Medium-Sized Towns is a loosely organised association of medium-sized European towns and represents the interests of its members vis-à-vis the Council of European Municipalities and Regions, the International Association of Local Authorities and the International Union of Mayors. At the twice-yearly working meetings, the inter-municipal cooperation of the cities is promoted and expanded. In April 2016, for example, the meeting in St. Pölten discussed the public relations work of the cities and, in particular, their online presences.

The European Energy Award (EEA) is a European quality management system and certification procedure, which enables a process-oriented energy policy in the municipality. It was born out of the desire for a holistic, implementation-active management system for municipal energy work. Today, more than 1,500 cities in eleven countries are involved, 329 of them in Germany. Over 780 municipalities have already received the Energy Award.

Our Jena also participated in the European Energy Award from 2005 to 2017. The city's energy team created energy policy work programmes during this time. The most important projects were the green electricity of the municipal utility, the Jena climate adaptation strategy, the campaign "Step by Step", the school renovation programme, the foundation of the citizens' energy cooperative "BürgerEnergie Jena eG", the Illmnitz open-space photovoltaic plant and the energy self-sufficient Jena central sewage treatment plant. The city of Jena received the European Energy Award in Gold 3 times for its commitment to climate protection.

In 2017, the EEA process was completed after 12 years. Now, with the project"Globally Sustainable Municipality Thuringia", an integrated sustainability strategy is to be developed in the context of the 2030 Agenda. The city of Jena is supported and accompanied by "Zukunftsfähiges Thüringen e. V.", the sponsor of the project. The organisational structures that have been developed in the EEA process will be used.

More information about the European Energy Award, detailed project descriptions or download documents can be found on the"Step by step - For more sustainability" page.

The European network of symphony orchestras"ONE - an Orchestra Network for Europe" was founded in 2003.

Its purpose is to promote the European idea through the international exchange of musicians, artists and conductors, and to encourage intercultural dialogue with the help of workshops and exchange projects between pupils and students. For young soloists there are also the "ONE® Young Artist Competitions".

Since 2005,"ONE" has received funding from the European Commission in Brussels, as part of the European cultural and creative programmes.

The following orchestras are currently members of the network:

Between July 2015 and March 2019, the musicians will jointly realize about 40 projects. An overview of past and future projects with photos and video clips is presented on the official website of the ONE orchestra networks.

The Jena Philharmonic Orchestra is the only German member of the ONE orchestra network. The musicians have already performed at the Alte Oper Frankfurt, the Cologne Philharmonie, the Konzerthaus Berlin and the Tonhalle Zurich. The Jena Philharmonic has also delighted audiences in France, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Armenia and China.

In cooperation with the German Music Council, the orchestra promotes young international conductors and offers an extensive music education program. In addition, the Jena Philharmonic has been a partner of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Weimar for over 50 years.

The project "Citizen Participation for EUROPE - Actively Shaping the European Election and the Future of Europe" was funded with the support of the European Union within the framework of the programme "Europe for Citizens". The association Recht in Europa e.V. concluded the project in October 2019 with an event in September 2019 and the final work. You can access the summary of all events and the resulting impulse paper under 'Downloads'.


1. the first International Conference in October 2018 will be held in Mechelen. As there are local elections in Belgium in October '18, this event will be held in a climate of self-efficacy. It will be accompanied by events on the radio and in the streets (surveys). Workshops will be held in each partner city, the content of which will feed into this conference.

2) Athens (the cradle of democracy) is particularly associated with Euroscepticism, due to the cuts it has made in the lives of its citizens. Therefore, the second International Conference will be held there in May '19 at the Cultural Centre. This conference will also be prepared with workshops in all partner cities.

The 3rd International Conference will also take place in Pleven directly before the European Parliament elections in 2019. In this East-European twin town, the recent experiences with civic and electoral participation will be particularly addressed. With its accompanying events (radio campaign, interviews and actions on the streets) WAHL will contribute to the formation of a European identity with respect as well as cultural and linguistic diversity.

4. the fourth International Conference will be held in Jena in September '19 (International Democracy Day). Jena is one of 40 cities in Germany to take a pioneering role and establish guidelines for citizen participation. Workshops in the partner cities help prepare the conference. The conference will be accompanied by radio and street activities and will adopt an impulse paper for possibilities of citizen participation. This will be disseminated via the networks of all partners in Europe and will provide suggestions for a "Europe for and with citizens".

In Mechelen/Bonheiden, Athens, Pleven and Jena, public meeting places (such as the Ratsdiele Jena), the streets (for interviews and surveys) as well as information and exchange via radio will contribute to the implementation of WAHL.


With WAHL the decision-making processes on municipal, national and European level are put up for discussion. Knowledge about decision-making at EU level and about different forms of civic participation will be improved. Citizen participation is a key factor for the sustainability of Europe. The free democratic basic order and the values that make up Europe are currently at stake due to nationalistic tendencies and populism as well as emerging anti-Semitic slogans up to hopeful racism.

This makes it all the more important for citizens to be actively involved in shaping democracy. The development and formation of national and European identity are goals of WAHL. With the four international conferences in Mechelen, Pleven, Athens and Jena, WAHL takes on both a transnational and local dimension. These conferences will be accompanied by street activities, citizen surveys, involvement of online activities and radio campaigns. In this way, non-voters and Eurosceptics are particularly addressed.

The international conferences represent an intercultural dialogue. They bring cultural and linguistic diversity to life and contribute to tolerance, understanding and European identity. They are dedicated to topics that are particularly topical in each twin city - with a focus on local elections on the one hand and the upcoming European elections on the other. The International Conferences will provide opportunities for all citizens to express themselves, their ideas and wishes. The debates will motivate citizens to assume their responsibilities through civic and electoral participation.

In totalitarian regimes, freedom and citizen participation had no value. This makes the exchange at the events in Eastern Europe all the more important. WAHL will achieve a sense of belonging to the EU in its activities.

Project partners

More information about the project, detailed project descriptions or download documents can be found on the"We Will Vote" project page.

The project "Citizen Participation for EUROPE - Actively Shaping the European Election and the Future of Europe" is funded with the support of the European Union within the framework of the programme "Europe for Citizens". The association Recht in Europa e. V. is the coordinating partner.


Europe's history has an important milestone: the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9.11.1989. 30 years later, freedom and human rights, democracy and the rule of law cannot be taken for granted. "Only" 42 % of the population in Thuringia consider democracy to be the best form of government (Allenbach). MAUERN therefore wants to actively involve citizens with its activities, record their disappointments, listen to their scepticism towards Europe and inspire them for Europe: with young citizens in schools, with students, with contemporary witnesses from back then and with representatives of politics.

Through the international conferences in Jena, Granada (ES), Izola (SI) and Timisoara (RO) more understanding of the citizens for the EU and the different history of its member states will be achieved and an attempt will be made to dismantle "New Walls". In each city the activities and especially the debates will have different accents. In Jena, the jolt to the right will be addressed, in Granada the question of "independence" of individual regions and states, in Izola the "NEW WALL" and racism and in the European Capital of Culture 2021 Timisoara, the "New Wall" corruption is on the agenda in Romania.

Citizens are given the ability to name their "walls" and write their "visions" of their Europe through essay workshops (innovative method). The experience installation with its various activities offers eyewitness talks and citizen dialogue with the mayors in public places. The Monday demos also encourage people to take an active part in Europe today.

The topics of populism, racism and xenophobia are debated in the conferences. It is about shaping the future of Europe. Young citizens (through schools) prepare and actively lead these debates. In totalitarian regimes, democracy and freedom had no value. This makes the exchange at MAUERN in Eastern Europe all the more important. MAUERN will conduct intercultural dialogue in its activities. An impulse paper will summarize the citizens' wishes for the politicians.


  • 05.11.2019 to 08.11.2019 in Jena (see flyer under downloads)
  • 29.04. to 03.05.2020 in Granada

Project partner

More information about the project, detailed project descriptions or download documents can be found on the"Overcoming New Walls" - project page.

Napoleon in Jena - Trailer