Lake Zurich

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For the lake and village in the U.S., see Lake Zurich, Illinois.
Lake Zürich
Pfannenstiel - Zürichsee - Sihltal - Albis Baldern IMG 5316.jpg
Lake Zürich, Pfannenstiel and Sihl Valley, as seen from nearby Felsenegg (April 2010)
Karte Zürichsee.png
Coordinates 47°15′N 8°41′E / 47.250°N 8.683°E / 47.250; 8.683Coordinates: 47°15′N 8°41′E / 47.250°N 8.683°E / 47.250; 8.683
Primary inflows Linth (Linthkanal)
Primary outflows Limmat
Catchment area 1,829 km2 (706 sq mi)
Basin countries Switzerland
Max. length 40 kilometres (25 miles)
Max. width 3 kilometres (2 miles)
Surface area 88.66 square kilometres (34.23 square miles)
Average depth 49 metres (161 feet)
Max. depth 143 metres (469 feet)
Water volume 3.9 km3 (0.94 cu mi)
Residence time 440 days
Surface elevation 406 m (1,332 ft)
Frozen 1929, 1962/1963 (last)
Islands Lützelau, Ufenau
Sections/sub-basins Obersee
Settlements see list

Lake Zürich (Swiss German/Alemannic: Zürisee; German: Zürichsee) is a lake in Switzerland, extending southeast of the city of Zürich. It is also known as the Lake of Zürich. It lies approximately at co-ordinates 47°15′N 8°41′E / 47.250°N 8.683°E / 47.250; 8.683.

Zürichsee is strictly the name of the part of the lake downstream of the dam at Rapperswil, mostly located within the canton of Zürich. The part upstream of the Rapperswil dam is called Obersee, and is shared between the cantons of St. Gallen and Schwyz.


Geographically, Lake Zürich is located in the southwestern part of the canton of Zürich. To the east – separated by Zürichberg-Adlisberg, Forch and Pfannenstiel – are two minor lakes: Greifensee (Lake Greifen) and Pfäffikersee (Lake Pfäffikon). Zimmerberg and the Etzel regions lie to the west.

Lake Zürich is formed by the river Linth, which rises in the glaciers of the Tödi Range in Glarus and was diverted by the Escher canal (completed in 1811) into Lake Walen from where its waters are carried to the east end of Lake Zürich by means of the Linth canal (completed in 1816). The waters of the Lake of Zürich flow out of the lake at its north-west end, passing through the city of Zürich; however, the outflow is then called the Limmat.

No streams of importance flow into the lake besides the Linth. It is included, or the greater portion, in the Canton of Zürich, but at its easterly end about 20 square kilometres (8 sq mi) towards the southern shore are in Canton of Schwyz, and 10 square kilometres (4 sq mi) towards its northern shore in Canton of St. Gallen. The large masonry dam (the Seedamm), carrying a railway line and road from Rapperswil to Pfäffikon, divides the lake. The eastern section of the lake is known as the Obersee, German for "upper lake". West of this dam lie the small islands of Lützelau and Ufenau, where in 1523 Ulrich von Hutten took refuge and died. Both shores are well cultivated and fertile. Another touristic destination is the Au peninsula at the village of Au between Wädenswil and Horgen.

The lake was frozen in the following years

  • 1223, 1259, 1262
  • 1407, 1491
  • 1514, 1517, 1573
  • 1600, 1660, 1684, 1695
  • 1709, 1716, 1718, 1740, 1755, 1763, 1789
  • 1830, 1880, 1891, 1895
  • 1929, 1963

Population and transportation[edit]

The three population and transportation centres are Zürich, Pfäffikon SZ and Rapperswil.

Besides Bürkliplatz in Zürich and the Seedamm, there are no bridges across the lake.

The Zürichsee-Schifffahrtsgesellschaft – the Lake Zürich Navigation Company – provides with its 17 passenger ships touristic services on Lake Zürich. There are a number of passenger ferry services, noticeably the Horgen–Meilen ferry, an auto ferry between Horgen and Meilen.

Towns on the lake[edit]

List of localities at Lake Zürich
Left shore ¹ Right shore
Notes: ¹ Left shore from the entry of the Linth River, i.e.

the south shore, which gradually becomes the west shore.
Cantons: SZ, SG, ZH.

Zürich, at the north-western end of the lake, is the largest city on Lake Zürich.

On the west shore (which gradually becomes the south shore) are Thalwil, Horgen, Wädenswil, Richterswil, Pfäffikon, and Lachen.

On the opposite shore are Küsnacht, Meilen, Stäfa, and Rapperswil-Jona with the medieval town of Rapperswil, whose castle is home to the Polish museum. Schmerikon is close to the east end of the lake, and a little further east is the larger town of Uznach.

Water quality[edit]

Lake Zürich's water is very clean and reaches, during summer, temperatures well beyond 20 °C (68 °F). Swimming in the public baths and beaches is very popular. The lake's water is purified and fed into Zürich's water system; it is potable.


Zürichsee view from Zürich to the Alps.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Media related to Zürichsee at Wikimedia Commons Media related to Obersee (Zürichsee) at Wikimedia Commons