The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #78


A reader writes:

That large building (or buildings) to the right is really frustrating me, as I can't seem to find it anywhere.  I'm going to try using a different clue: the ridgelines in the background.  It looks like the central Appalachians, but this is obviously not central Pennsylvania.  The Alps do have a ridge and valley system running to the northwest of the main mountain chain, and the largest city in that region is Grenoble, France, so that's what's going to be my shot in the dark.

Another writes:

Basel, Switzerland?  The modern building on the right looks like the headquarters of the Bank for International Settlements.


The red roofs seem to be mostly in Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia. (The style of church in the background seems consistent with Serbian Orthodox churches.) There's only a handful of cities in those countries that are large and near the mountains. My best guess is Sarajevo, which seems to be about the right size, full of red roofs, and located in a mountain valley. I was unable to identify the office building or church in the picture, though.


I googled around for roof types and orange roof and found Dubrovnik.  This was clearly not the right answer, but the roof style was accurate. I then began to look at topographical maps of Croatia for cities that were on the borders of large mountain or hill ranges but there really wasn't much in Croatia. So, I looked north to Slovenia and saw tons of mountains and cities on the edges of them.  I also figured that because the two were likely combined at some point or at least are neighbors, it would be likely they would have similar roof styles.

I started looking at a few different cities in Slovenia and, as far as I can tell, the only one that comes close is Maribor.  Looking on Google Earth, there is a church with a similar steeple to the one in the picture, and there are hills in the background.  I don't think I have the exact right answer, because the mountains don't match up perfectly, but I have to get back to studying and so this is where I leave.  My best conjecture – Maribor, Slovenia.


This is Stavanger, Norway. 

An old friend of mine is from Stavanger.  Shortly after we met he told me about a ferry route that sailed between Stavanger and Newcastle.  Years later, on my (roundabout) way back to the States from living in Russia, I passed through Stavanger and took the route he had told me about.  After we arrived in Newcastle, as I waited in line for passport control, I watched the cars unload from the ship.  One by one, northern European sedans poured out of the hull, themselves queuing to get checked into Britain.  And following all of these nondescript cars, there came an SUV pulling a reduced scale Viking ship.  Of course.


Thank you for not doing another photo of a port. I've spent the last couple of weeks looking up port towns in Scandanavia and the Mediterranean on Google maps. I've discovered a lot of nice looking places, but got neither Sweden nor Morocco right.

I spent a few years living in Germany and this photo looks like many German towns I've been to.  However, I don't have the time, energy or Google maps expertise to figure out exactly where it is. So I'll just say it's a medium-sized town, probably in the western part of Germany.  And hopefully by sending in my answer today that will stop me spending the next two days trying to do a Google maps search of all medium-sized towns in Germany.


This week's contest was pretty difficult, the only clues I could see was the geography and style of the buildings. Now I'm pretty much casting out a line that I've picked the right town, Tübingen, Germany. The homes look pretty authentically German, the beautiful hills look like Southwest Germany. I'm also guessing that this is probably a picture that someone took on an Oktoberfest bender and just managed to find in the last few weeks. Hopefully they ventured farther from Munich that I probably would have.

While I have very little hope in getting this right, it does make me forget for a moment what it took for my ancestors to leave a similarly beautiful town in southern Germany for the US in the 1800s. Then I remember the religious persecutions and upheavals of the time and remind myself that my kinfolk had it pretty sweet in America, too, even if the beer wasn't as good.

Another gets the right German city:

The yellow villa is typical German style circa 1900 – I lived in one in Hamburg. But the hills mean it can't be the north, this must be central or southern Germany. The stripey building at far right looks like the Jena University tower, which was something of a socialist status symbol for the old regime. I can't give the exact street, but it's definitely Jena, Germany.

Another who correctly answered Jena:


This was an especially exciting view for me, having spent a number of summers in Jena, where my now-wife studied. Besides the recognizable hills in the distance, the giveaway is the sliver of the Intershop tower on the right. Finding the exact house is a bit more difficult, though I admit I was tempted to hop on a train and go searching! Glancing at Google Maps I would guess around Johann-Friedrich-Str. 13, though I am not at all positive.

In any case, attached is a photo from the Intershop tower looking back toward where the original picture was taken. It's a beautiful little university town in Thüringen, well worth a visit.


You must have been following the news reports about the neo-Nazi terrorist cell of Zwickau, Germany: all its members hailed from this city, Jena, former hi-tech and academic center of the German Democratic Republic.

This is the fourth time you have a city in the contest where one of us has lived, after Kiev (twice) and Madrid. We missed them previously, but this time, we are sure. We lived here for more than three years before moving to the US eleven years ago. Although Jena suffered a lot under GDR urban development and industrialization, it is still a pretty and quite livable city, surrounded by a beautiful topography of steep limestone cliffs.


After two days of googling and being confused by the Dutch gambrel roofs in the foreground, I recognized the romanesque style of St. Michael's church tower in Jena, on the west bank of the river Saale. The building on the far right with the dark center is part of Ernst-Abbe Platz near the Intershop Tower, a sliver of which is visible behind the first building (another angle). Then I found this panoramic image and I think the building our view was taken from is one of the 10-15 houses I have narrowed them down to in the red box:


Its address is either Johann-Friedrich Straße or Schroeterstraße. That might possibly be the most anyone who has never been to Jena can do under the circumstances, I think. Thanks for the challenge, it was exciting and frustrating at the same time.

Another gets the right street:

Everything in this picture points to Germany. The characteristic roof tiles. The casement windows, the style of the pre-war villas in the foreground. The topography really only allows for one conclusion: Jena, Thuringia's second largest city. The church in the center is the Friedenskirche, and the modern building on the right is the former research building of Zeiss Optical Systems (built 1959-65, but modernized in 1993).

The tricky part was the location from which the photo was taken. After wasting nearly an hour searching for identical roof patterns, I am willing to make an educated guess: this photo was taken from a building on Schroeterstraße 8. The building with the terrace seen on the left is Schroeterstraße 10, a residential building owned by the Jena-based Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. Could it be that our anonymous photographer is associated with the institute?

Yes indeed (see below). Another nails the right address:

Apologies for the multiple emails.  I have another correction. The picture was taken from a building on Schroeterstrasse.  It's the building with the overhang in the center of the photo:

Screen Shot 2011-11-26 at 4.25.22 PM

If I knew how to photoshop I could even circle the window, etc.  The photographer was standing on the top floor of the building underneath the overhang. It's hard to tell the exact address from Google Maps.  I'm going for Schroeterstr 6.

Yet another update from that reader:

I was curious about the name of the street: Schroeterstrasse. I'm guessing that it is named after the astronomer Johann Schroeter. Jena is known for its contributions to astronomy and lenses. Is the contest linked not only to Germany, but also to NASA's latest mission to Mars? A crater on Mars was named after Schroeter.

Of the four readers who correctly answered Schroeterstraße 6, only one has gotten a difficult window in the past without winning and thus gets the prize this week:

Wow! This is the second week in a row where I saw the view and knew exactly where it was right away. I spent a few weeks in Jena, Germany back in the late 1990s. It was (and still is, I hear) one of the coolest university towns in the former GDR. Whereas my visceral reaction to last week's image of Casablanca was rooted in a miserable travelling experience, the sight of Jena instantly evoked warm memories from my university days.

The picture shows a view from the Jena-Süd neighborhood of Jena, Germany facing north/north-east towards the city center. At the very edge of the picture (to the right), you can see the distinctive Jen-Tower (formerly known as the Intershop Tower), the tallest building in the former East Germany. Next to the Jen-Tower is the Bürohochhaus am Leutragraben. Michaelskirche is also visible in the center of the frame. The photograph was taken from what appears to be a residential building on Schroeterstrasse. According to Jena city maps, the building's address is Schroeterstrasse 6. The picture was taken from what appears to be a covered balcony on the top floor (third story). I've attached aerial images pinpointing the spot where the picture was taken, with the other residential structures in view, as well as a screen capture of the Jena Stadtplan (city map) identifying the actual street address:

Stadtplan Jena

I've been a longtime Dish reader, but never felt like part of the club until I submitted a correct answer last week. Now that I've lucked out two weeks in a row, I feel like it's destiny for me. This is my one chance – the culmination of a life's journey. I sure hope I'm the one this week!

From the VFYW's owner:

I'm in Jena, on a four-month sabbatical working at the Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology (M-PICE). The photo is taken through the window of the front door of my flat, which is owned by the M-PICE (the Institute, though, is housed on the Beutenberg Campus, about 2 km away). The flat is on the third (top) floor of the building (there are six flats in total), and the view from my window looks down into the Jena city center. The address of the flat is Schroeterstraße 6. It is located in a very charming part of Jena, with lots of turn of the century houses, plus a few modern houses.  The tall silver building is the Jen-Tower, which until January 2005 was the "Intershop" Tower, and next to it is the Jenoptik Tower (the white building). The beige tower, with the grey top (in the center of the photo), is a church called Friedenskirche

Jena has a number of important research institutions, and the Friedrich Schiller University (Karl Marx was awarded his PhD here). It is also home to the world famous Carl Zeiss Jena Company, which specializes in optics and glass making. Finally, Jena is the home of the first ever planetarium (Zeiss Planetarium).

Please let me know if you'd like any additional information. And Happy Thanksgiving from Germany!