The town is not as recent as its name suggests, since it was founded in 1248 by order of the Margrave Johann von Brandenburg. The adjective «neu» (new) is meant only to distinguish it from the city of Brandenburg. It is built on a circular plan crisscrossed by a network of streets. In 1945, 80% of the old town was destroyed, but the town's fortifications were spared. Today they are the major tourist attraction.