Weißenfels looks back over a long history. In accordance with the will of the Saxon Elector Johann Georg I, in 1656 the town became the residence of the collateral line of the electors of Saxony, the Sachsen-Weißenfels. The town’s upgrading to become the ducal residence is regarded as its heyday.
Court life promoted art and culture. Neu-Augustusburg Castle is closely connected with famous musicians such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Friedrich Händel (known as “Handel” in English), Georg Philipp Telemann, Johann Beer and Johann Phillip Krieger. Johann Sebastian Bach held the title of Hofkapellmeister, court music director, of Weißenfels. The talent of the young Handel was discovered at the organ of the important Weißenfels castle church.
Heinrich Schütz, the first German composer of international standing, spent his childhood and the end of his life in Weißenfels. His home in his old age, the Heinrich Schütz Haus, is the only one of the composer’s homes still to be preserved in its original condition.
After the fateful battle of Lützen in 1632, the Swedish King Gustav II Adolf lay in state in the Geleitshaus and his autopsy was performed there. An alleged bloodstain can still be seen today.
Outstanding figures of literature such as Louise von François, Louise Brachmann and the poet Novalis also left their traces in Weißenfels. The life and work of Novalis, a major German representative of the Early Romantic period, are presented at the Novalis memorial site.