Schwandorf is in Upper Palatinate.
Despite the name ostensibly suggesting a connection to swans ("Schwan" in German), modern etymologists are all in agreement that this is not the origin of the town name and the predominating theory connects the name to a Slavic origin and indeed the town has sat on the crossroads between the Germanic and Slavic worlds since its foundation. Having been totally destroyed by war in the 16th century, most of the "old" buildings today date from the rebuilding after that disaster. In the 19th century, the railway reached Schwandorf which, in addition to nearby lignite deposits, gave a push to industrialization in the region. Indeed, Schwandorf to this day serves as a railroad hub and one can change from a train from Nuremberg to one heading on to Prague here. The lignite deposits ran out in the late 20th century and similarly to the Lusatian Lake District and the Central German Lake District a (much smaller) "Upper Paltinatian Lake District" ("Oberpfälzer Seenland") was the result of the conversion of former lignite pits to new uses.
Nearby Wackersdorf became a household name in the 1980s due to the drawn out fight about whether a nuclear waste processing facility should be built there. After tumultuous protests and police violence and despite Bavarian Prime Minister Franz Josef Strauß's claim that the planned facility "would not be more dangerous than a bicycle spoke factory" the project was ultimately canceled.
- 1 Bahnhof Schwandorf. An important railway node since the mid 19th century, here the rail lines from Regensburg (onward service to Munich), Nuremberg and onwards to Furth im Wald (Czech border) intersect. As of 2021 none of the rail lines going here are electrified, but there are plans to change that.
A93 passes to the east of town.
- 1 Oberpfälzer Künstlerhaus (Kebbelvilla). An art museum.
- 2 Felsenkeller. Going back in the oldest parts to the 14th century, these cellars were used to keep beer cold (enabling proper fermentation with cold-loving yeasts) before artificial refrigeration. Later they were used to store other foods and beverages and today they are largely used for tourism and can be visited on a guided tour.
- 3 Blasturm.
Upper Palatinate Lake District (Oberpfälzer Seenland)
Most of these lakes are some ways off (or not even inside the town limits) but Schwandorf is as good a starting-off point as any.
- 1 Steinberger See. 1.84 km2 (0.71 sq mi) surface area.
- 2 Murner See. 90 hectares (220 acres) surface area.
- 3 Brückelsee. 145 hectares (360 acres) surface area.
Lakes not created as a product of lignite mining
- 1 Brauereigasthof Plank, Wiefelsdorfer Str. 1, 92421 Schwandorf-Wiefelsdorf, ☏ . W - Su 11:00 - 14:00 & 17.30 - open end. They brew their own beer and serve local down-home cooking including fish from local ponds.