Neuruppin has the reputation of being the most Prussian of all Prussian towns, due to its former status as a Prussian garrison town. The novelist Theodor Fontane, the general Hermann Hoth, and the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel were born in Neuruppin. Frederick the Great lived in Neuruppin in his years as crown prince of Prussia.
The name Neuruppin means "New Ruppin"; the original settlement of Ruppin (later Altruppin, "Old Ruppin") was located on the tiny island of Poggenwerder in the middle of the lake. It was founded about 1150. Some hundred years later, when the island became too small for the growing population, the settlement of Neuruppin on the shore of the lake was founded. The first settlers built the church of St. Trinitatis (1246), which still stands.
In 1688 Neuruppin became a Prussian garrison town. After a disastrous fire in 1787 the town was rebuilt with Classicist buildings characterising its townscape to the present day. It remained a garrison town until the late 20th century, since Soviet (resp. Russian) troops were stationed here until 1993; during this time there were as many Soviet soldiers as inhabitants in Neuruppin.