Weißenfels is located in southern Saxony-Anhalt, in the border triangle of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia and is considered the gateway to Saale-Unstrut, the land of wine and stone. The city is centrally located near the major cities of Halle and Leipzig, has excellent transport connections, attractive landscapes and a rich cultural history.
Weißenfels is a city rich in history. Numerous buildings like the castle Neu-Augustusburg with its impressive castle church and prince's crypt are evidence of this. As a former baroque residence city and center of German cultural history, Weißenfels was a meeting place for many international artists. Particularly worth seeing are the Heinrich Schütz House, the Novalis Monument, the Escort House, the St. Mary's Church (built in 1303) and the Prince's Palace. Furthermore, the city on the Saale River has a wide range of sports and leisure activities offer with its cultural center, folk high school, public library, local nature garden, open-air and indoor swimming pools, all-weather toboggan run and a boat and bicycle rental service.
Friedrich von Hardenberg, called Novalis, lived in the house at Klosterstraße 24 with his family from the age of 13 until his early death at 28. He went down in literary history as the most important German poet of early romanticism. After successfully passing his law exams, he began further studies at the Bergakademie Freiberg to acquire expert knowledge for his occupation as a saline assessor. Throughout the entire period of his studies, he continued to be productive in literature, with the early and agonizing death of his 15-year-old fiancée having a strong influence on him and his literary work. Among the most important works by Novalis are the “Hymns to the Night” and the fragment “Heinrich von Ofterdingen”, which is widely known for its symbolic figure of the “Blue Flower”.
In the exhibition in Novalis' former residence and death house, the person of Friedrich von Hardenberg is presented in its entirety, so that not only the literary work of the young artist is addressed, but also his research and findings in the field of geology/mining. Apart from the baroque residential building, the so-called "Novalis Pavilion", which is located in the adjoining garden, has also been preserved. The historical pavilion is used for readings and lectures, is open to visitors with interest and can also be booked for civil weddings.
Not far from this memorial site is the current city park, where the poet has found his final resting place. The idyllic "poet's corner" with a memorial stone and Novalis bust remind us of him and his legacy.
On the foundation walls of the former Weißenfels Castle, the residence of the Weißenfels' Dukes, Castle Neu-Augustusburg was built between 1660 and 1694 in the form of a monumental three-winged complex. Until 1746, the castle served as the residence of the Saxonian branch line Saxony-Weißenfels and quickly developed into a cultural stronghold.
Johann Beer served as ducal concertmaster at the Weißenfels court, while Johann Phillip Krieger held the position of court chapel conductor. The personal physician of Duke Johann Adolf I of Weißenfels was a certain Georg Händel, who one day took his seven-year-old son with him to Weißenfels. Little George Frederick Handel played the castle church organ in the presence of the Duke so impressively that the Duke convinced his father to provide a musical education for his son. Thus Weißenfels is regarded as the place of discovery of the talent of Georg Friedrich Händel.
Another world-class artist is also associated with Weißenfels Castle: Johann Sebastian Bach served as Weißenfels Court Chapel Conductor from the house. The comedy hall integrated into the south wing of the castle served, for example, as a stage for Caroline Neuber. Opposite the comedy hall, in the north wing, is the impressive castle church of St. Trinitatis, still preserved today and one of the most beautiful early baroque churches in central Germany. Equipped with frescoes and splendid stucco work by Italian masters as well as a Förner organ, the church holds another treasure in the cellars: The princely tomb with splendidly decorated tin and wooden sarcophagi of the dukes of Saxony-Weissenfels.
The Museum Weißenfels in Neu-Augustusburg Castle today houses an exhibition on the Duchy of Saxony-Weißenfels and the history of the city. It is also home to the largest shoe museum in the new federal states, with shoes from all over the world and prominent personalities. The castle church with Förner organ as well as constantly changing special exhibitions can be visited during the opening hours of the museum.
The Heinrich Schütz's House is the only originally preserved residence of the composer. Schütz acquired it in 1651 as his retirement home and lived here until shortly before his death in 1672. The exhibition allows visitors to experience the life and work of the composer on three floors. The highlight is the restored composing room in which Schütz created his late work. The most valuable treasure presented here are two fragments of music found in the house written by the composer. In addition to historical musical instruments, the museum displays valuable original early prints of his works. Numerous sound samples, media stations and films convey a concise impression of Heinrich Schütz's compositional style to visitors. Here, adults and children can meet the elderly composer himself: In fictional radio plays, Heinrich Schütz remembers important stages of his life. The Renaissance house was extensively renovated in 2010-2011. An architectural and archaeological discovery trail draws attention to valuable structural details and findings.
The annual program includes regular chamber concerts and presentations. Annually in October, Heinrich Schütz Music Festival takes place and is organized by the Mitteldeutsche Barockmusik e. V. in cooperation with the Schütz Houses in Bad Köstritz and Weißenfels and the Dresdner Hofmusik e. V.
Heinrich Schütz is indisputably regarded as the most important German composer of the 17th century. Born in Köstritz, Thuringia, he spent his childhood and youth in Weißenfels and as a choirboy in Kassel. After studying music in Venice, he became court conductor in Dresden. The composer's path of life led him all over Europe up to Denmark and Italy. He was the most important mediator of Italian music in German-speaking areas. With his work, he influenced Lutheran church music.
The house, built in 1552 in the Renaissance style with a seating areas portal and bay windows, initially served as a residential building and from 1555 as a Saxon escort house. The escort house became historically significant in November 1632, when the Swedish King Gustav II Adolf, mortally wounded in the Battle of Lützen, had been autopsied on the first floor and prepared for the return to Stockholm.
Since 1931, a large diorama of the Battle of Lützen (approx. 10,000 pewter figures) has been kept in this house to commemorate the events of November 1632. In addition to the diorama and contemporary autopsy room, an exhibition on the Thirty Years' War (1618 - 1648) and its effects on Weißenfels can be viewed in the other rooms on the first floor. Furthermore there is an Irish Pub in the house