Lake Zurich

Coordinates: 47°14′51″N 8°40′39″E / 47.24750°N 8.67750°E / 47.24750; 8.67750
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Lake Zurich
Zürichsee (German)
Lake Zurich, Pfannenstiel, and Sihl Valley, as seen from Felsenegg
Lake Zurich is located in Canton of Zurich
Lake Zurich
Lake Zurich
Lake Zurich is located in Canton of Schwyz
Lake Zurich
Lake Zurich
Lake Zurich is located in Canton of St. Gallen
Lake Zurich
Lake Zurich
Lake Zurich is located in Switzerland
Lake Zurich
Lake Zurich
Lake Zurich is located in Alps
Lake Zurich
Lake Zurich
Coordinates47°14′51″N 8°40′39″E / 47.24750°N 8.67750°E / 47.24750; 8.67750
Primary inflowsLinth (Linthkanal)
Primary outflowsLimmat
Catchment area1,829 km2 (706 sq mi)
Basin countriesSwitzerland
Max. length40 kilometres (25 miles)
Max. width3 kilometres (2 miles)
Surface area88.66 square kilometres (34.23 square miles)
Average depth49 metres (161 feet)
Max. depth136 metres (446 feet)
Water volume3.9 km3 (0.94 cu mi)
Residence time440 days
Surface elevation406 m (1,332 ft)
Frozen1929, 1962/1963 (last)
IslandsLützelau, Ufenau, Schönenwirt
Settlementssee list

Lake Zurich (German: Zürichsee; Swiss German/Alemannic: Zürisee)[1] is a lake in Switzerland, extending southeast of the city of Zürich. Depending on the context, Lake Zurich or Zürichsee can be used to describe the lake as a whole, or just that part of the lake downstream of the Seedamm at Rapperswil, whilst the part upstream of Rapperswil may be called the Obersee or Upper Lake.


Lake Zurich is formed by the river Linth, which rises in the glaciers of the Glarus Alps 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 Zurich by means of the Linth canal (completed in 1816). The waters of the Lake Zurich flow out of the lake at its north-west end (Quaibrücke), passing through the city of Zürich; however, the outflow is then called the Limmat.[2] The culminating point of the lake's drainage basin is the Tödi at 3,614 metres above sea level.[3]

No streams of importance flow into the lake besides the Linth.[2] The Seedamm, a partially artificial causeway and bridge, crosses a narrow point of the lake carrying a railway line and road from Rapperswil to Pfäffikon. The eastern section of the lake is known as the Obersee ("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.[2] Another tourist destination is the Au peninsula at the village of Au between Wädenswil and Horgen.

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.

Administratively, Lake Zurich is split between the cantons of Zürich, St. Gallen and Schwyz. The lower lake, to the west of the Seedamm, is largely in the canton of Zürich, whilst the upper lake is shared between the cantons of St. Gallen and Schwyz.


The lake was frozen in the following Common Era/Anno Domini 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 Quaibrücke in Zürich and the Seedamm, there are no bridges across the lake.

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

Towns on the lake[edit]

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

On the west shore (which gradually becomes the south shore) are Rüschlikon, 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.

Lake Zurich from Grossmünster with Quaibrücke and the Limmat River in the foreground

Water quality[edit]

Lake Zurich'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.

Lake Zurich view from Zürich to the Alps

Prehistoric pile dwellings around Lake Zurich[edit]

Nine Prehistoric pile dwellings around Zürichsee, which are located in the cantons of Schwyz, St. Gallen and Zürich, are among the 56 Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps in Switzerland.[4][5]

These nine sites on the Lake Zurich lakeshore are Freienbach–Hurden Rosshorn, Freienbach–Hurden Seefeld, Rapperswil-Jona/Hombrechtikon–Feldbach, Rapperswil-Jona–Technikum, Erlenbach–Winkel, Meilen–Rorenhaab, Wädenswil–Vorder Au, Zürich–Enge Alpenquai, and Kleiner Hafner. Because the lake has grown in size over time, the original piles are now around 4 metres (13 ft) to 7 metres (23 ft) under the water level of 406 metres (1,332 ft). Two other sites are not far away: Greifensee–Storen/Wildsberg at the Greifensee and Wetzikon–Robenhausen at the Pfäffikersee.

As well as being part of the 56 Swiss sites of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, each of these 11 prehistoric pile dwellings is also listed as a Class object in the Swiss inventory of cultural property of national and regional significance.[6]


The following rivers or streams flow into Lake Zurich.[7] From the Limmat clockwise, they are:

Küsnachter Dorfbach and Küsnacht's Reformed Church
  • Hornbach (at Zürichhorn)
  • Düggelbach (at Zollikon)
  • Kusenbach (at Küsnacht)
  • Küsnachter Dorfbach (at Hornelanpark, Küsnacht)
  • Heslibach (at Erlenbach)
  • Dorfbach Erlenbach (at Erlenbach)
  • Tobelbächli (at Erlenbach)
  • Schipfbach (at Erlenbach)
  • Rossbach (at Herrliberg)
  • Meilener Dorfbach (at Meilen)
  • Beugenbach (at Meilen)
  • Aebletenbach (at Ländeli)
  • Uetiker Mulibach (at Meilen)
  • Feldbach (at Horn)
  • Sarenbach (at Freienbach)
  • Krebsbach (at Bäch)
  • Mülibach (at Richterswil)
  • Zürichsee (at Wädenswil)
  • Meilibach (at Wädenswil)
  • Schanzengraben (Zürich)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Map 1:50 000" (Map). Zürichsee (2011 ed.). 1:50 000. "National Map 1:50'000, 78 sheets and 25 composites". Bern, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Office of Topography, swisstopo. 16 January 2014. § "5011 Zürichsee - Zug". ISBN 978-3-302-05011-9. Retrieved 2014-12-01.
  2. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainCoolidge, William Augustus Brevoort (1911). "Zürich, Lake of". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  3. ^ "National Map 1:25 000" (Map). Tödi, Lake Zurich's culmination point (2009 ed.). 1:25 000. "National Map 1:25'000, 247 sheets and 17 composites". Bern, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Office of Topography, swisstopo. 16 January 2014. § "1193 Tödi". ISBN 978-3-302-05011-9. Retrieved 2014-12-01.
  4. ^ "Prehistoric Pile Dwellings in Switzerland". Swiss Coordination Group UNESCO Palafittes ( Archived from the original on 2014-10-07. Retrieved 2014-12-07.
  5. ^ "World Heritage". Archived from the original on 2014-12-09. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
  6. ^ "A-Objekte KGS-Inventar". Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, Amt für Bevölkerungsschutz. 2009. Archived from the original on 2010-06-28. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
  7. ^ Bradshaw's pedestrian route-book for Switzerland, Chamouni, and the Italian lakes, George Bradshaw (1868)

External links[edit]