Schweinfurt, whose name literally means "swine ford", has a long history. It was first mentioned in a document dating from 720. It was an important place to cross the River Main in a time when there were not yet many bridges in Germany. In 941 Schweinfurt became the capital of a Franconian margraviate. During the High Middle Ages, it became an Imperial City (i.e. the citizenry was directly subject to the Emperor and enjoyed many liberties and privileges).
In 1542, it was one of the first cities in Southern Germany to adopt Protestantism. During the Counter-Reformation, many Protestants from neighbouring territories fled to Schweinfurt where they could freely profess their faith. Nowadays however, due to more recent immigration from the surrounding Catholic areas and secularisation, 42% of the population are Catholic, while only 29% remain Protestant. During the Early Modern Age, Schweinfurt was a centre of education, the German National Academy of Sciences was founded here in 1652.
Industrial development started in 1777 when a white lead mill was founded. Later Schweinfurt became a site of paint, chemical, metal and engines industry (e.g. Sachs). In 1802, the free city of Schweinfurt was annexed into the Kingdom of Bavaria. During the Second World War, Schweinfurt produced most of Nazi Germany's ball bearings. As a crucial armament industry site, it was strategically bombed by the Allies. After the end of the war, Schweinfurt hosted a major U.S. Army Garrison until 2014. The city has some 52,000 inhabitants with a little less than 100,000 people living in its agglomeration. With a per-capita GDP of €78,382, Schweinfurt is one of the most economically powerful cities in Germany.
Schweinfurt is not served by intercity trains. Arriving by ICE highspeed train from Berlin, Frankfurt or Munich, you will have to transfer either in Würzburg or Bamberg, from where regional trains run twice an hour, taking 20–30 minutes from Würzburg or 30–40 minutes from Bamberg.
Schweinfurt is located on the intersection of Autobahns A 70 from Bamberg/Bayreuth/Nuremberg and A 71 from Erfurt, and only a few kilometres off the north-south route A 7 from Hanover/Kassel or Würzburg/Ulm.
- 1 Museum Georg Schäfer, Brückenstraße 20. 19th-century paintings by artists from German-speaking countries.