Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Gera
GERA, the chief town of the principality of Reuss-Schleiz, stands in a valley on the banks of the White Elster, 35 miles S.S.W. of Leipsic. It has been all rebuilt since a great fire in 1780, and the streets are in general wide and straight, and contain many handsome houses. The principal buildings are the churches of St Salvator’s and St Trinity, the town-hall, the buildings of the imperial bank and of the Gera bank, the music hall, and the central hall. Its educational establishments include a gymnasium, a general town school (which contains a real school of the first order, a higher female school, and three citizen schools), a commercial school, a normal school, and a weaving school. The castle of Osterstein, the residence of the prince of Reuss, dates from the 9th century, but has been nearly all rebuilt within the last thirty years. Gera has long been noted for its industrial activity. Its manufactures comprise woollen, cotton, and silk goods, tapestry, artificial flowers, oil-cloth, leather, hats, tobacco, soap, beer, vinegar, chocolate, glue, porcelain and other earthenware, bricks, musical instruments, and carriages.
Gera 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. The population in 1875 was 20,810, nearly all of whom are Protestants.