GERA, a town of Germany, capital of the principality of Reuss-Schleiz (called also Reuss younger line), situated in a valley on the banks of the White Elster, 45 m. S.S.W. of Leipzig on the railway to Probstzella. Pop. (1885) 34,152; (1905) 47,455. It has been mostly rebuilt since a great fire in 1780, and the streets are in general wide and straight, and contain many handsome houses. There are three Evangelical churches and one Roman Catholic. Among other noteworthy buildings are the handsome town-hall (1576, afterwards restored) and the theatre (1902). Its educational establishments include a gymnasium, a commercial and a weaving school. The castle of Osterstein, the residence of the princes of Reuss, dates from the 9th century, but has been almost entirely rebuilt in modern times. Gera is noted for its industrial activity. Its industries include wool-weaving and spinning, dyeing, iron-founding, the manufacture of cotton and silk goods, machinery, sewing machines and machine oil, leather and tobacco, and printing (books and maps) and flower gardening.
Gera (in ancient chronicles Geraha) was raised to the rank of a town in the 11th century, at which time it belonged to the counts of Groitch. In the 12th century it came into the possession of the lords of Reuss. It was stormed and sacked by the Bohemians in 1450, was two-thirds burned down by the Swedes in 1639 during the Thirty Years' War, and suffered afterwards from great conflagrations in 1686 and 1780, being in the latter year almost completely destroyed.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)