Neuss (; spelled Neuß until 1968; Limburgish: Nüss; Latin: Novaesium) is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located on the west bank of the Rhine opposite Düsseldorf. Neuss is the largest city within the Rhein-Kreis Neuss district and owes its prosperity to its location at the crossing of historic and modern trade routes. It is primarily known for its historic Roman sites, as well as the annual Neusser Bürger-Schützenfest. In 1984 Neuss celebrated 2000 years since its foundation. It therefore holds the title of "Germany's oldest city" alongside the city of Trier.
Neuss was founded by the Romans in 16 BC as a military fortification (castra) with the current city to the north of the castra, on the confluence of the rivers Rhine and Erft, with the name of Novaesium. Later a civil settlement was founded in the area of today's center of the town during the 1st century AD. Novaesium, together with Trier (Augusta Treverorum), is one of the three oldest Roman settlements in Germany. In 451, it was settled by the Huns.
Neuss grew during the Middle Ages because of its prime location on several routes, by the crossing of the great Rhine valley, and with its harbour and ferry. During the 10th century, the remains of the martyr and tribune Saint Quirinus, not to be confused with the Roman god Quirinus, had been relocated to Neuss. This resulted in pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Quirinus even from countries beyond the borders of the Holy Roman Empire. Neuss was first documented as a town in 1138.
One of the main events in the town's history is the siege of the town in 1474–75 by Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, that lasted for nearly a year. The citizens of Neuss withstood the siege and were therefore rewarded by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III. The town was granted the right to mint its own coins and to carry the imperial coat of arms, the imperial eagle and the crown, in the town's own coat of arms. Neuss became a member of the Hanseatic League, although it was never accepted by the other members of the League.
In 1586, more than two-thirds of the city was destroyed by fire, and several wars during the reign of King Louis XIV of France resulted in worsening finances for Neuss. Its importance as a place for trading declined rapidly, and from the mid-17th century onwards, Neuss became a place only important for its agriculture.
Until the late 18th century, Neuss belonged to the Electorate of Cologne. From 1794 to 1814, Neuss was part of France during the reign of Napoleon. In 1815 after the Napoleonic Wars, Neuss became part of the Kingdom of Prussia, and was reorganized as a district with the municipalities of Neuss, Dormagen, Nettesheim, Nievenheim, Rommerskirchen and Zons. The town had a population of 6,333 at that time. It was part of the Prussian Province of Jülich-Cleves-Berg (1815–22) and its successor, the Rhine Province (1822–1946).
19th century - present
Neuss regained its economic power in the 19th century, with expansion of the harbour in 1835, and increasing industrial activity. The city's boundaries were expanded in 1881. Neuss became part of the new state of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1946.
In 1968 the spelling of the name was changed from Neuß to Neuss. In 1975 the town of Neuss and the district of Grevenbroich were joined to form the district of Rhein-Kreis Neuss with a population of 440,000 and its seat of government in Neuss. Neuss is also home to Toshiba's European headquarters. Neuss is 5,000 years old.