Once the university was founded by John Frederick I, the town started to become a ‘second Wittenberg’. The public disputation held at the university between Luther and Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt - once his ally and later his opponent – is legendary. From the tower of the parish church you have a good view of the points along the Luther Trail as it crosses the city. Luther preached at this church and his bronze grave plaque is on display here.
Jena is one of the most important printing places of the Lutheran Bible. The printing press was set up in the Carmelite monastery, which existed in Jena until 1525. From 1533, the Luther student Georg Rörer (1492–1557) worked as a publisher of the Jena edition of the Luther Bible.
Luther’s stays in Jena and other places within the Saale Valley were mainly linked with the radical reformer Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt. A commemorative plaque on St Margaret’s Church, a building that dominates the town, tells us that ‘during the era of the iconoclastic movement, Dr Martin Luther preached here on 23 August 1524’. As on the previous day in Jena, Luther tried to repress Karlstadt’s influence here too. The congregation, who openly sympathised with Karlstadt, are said to have provoked Luther on his way to the pulpit by laying a broken crucifix in his path, which, it is said, he 'ignored'. The composer Johann Walter (1496-1570), who later became Luther’s closest friend and musical adviser, was born in Kahla town on the River Saale.