Lake Zurich Zürichsee
Lake Zurich (in German Zürichsee), which was gouged out by the Linth glacier during the last Ice Age, extends for a total length of 39km/24mi in a beautiful pre-Alpine setting. With a maximum width of 4km/2mi, it has an area of 88 sq. km/34 sq. mi (Unterer See 68 sq. km/26 sq. mi, Obersee 20 sq. km/8 sq. mi) and a depth of up to 143 m/469ft. Its principal tributary, the Linth, rises in Glarus, flows through the Walensee and continues into Lake Zurich as a canal. The lake is drained at the northwest end by the Limmat which flows into the Aare. Although the lake lies in a densely populated region, with about a million inhabitants of the cantons of Zürich, St Gallen and Schwyz living on its shores, a third of its shoreline is still freely accessible.
The passenger boat services on Lake Zurich are operated with modern motor vessels and also old steamships. They serve both shores as far as Rapperswill from Easter to October and, in the high season, also the Obersee.Further attractions: from May to October every Tuesday there are culinary evening trips (e.g. a "fondue cruise"); a cruise with dancing to a live orchestra from June to September, and many more. Trips on the river Limmat: There are daily timetabled services from the Schweizerisches Landesmuseum (near the main station) to Zurichhorn- See-restaurant Enge and back to the Schweizerisches Landesmuseum.
Northeast shore driving tour
The northeast shore of Lake Zurich, with an almost continuous succession of attractive towns and villages lying below vineyards and orchards and a whole string of beaches, is popularly known as the "Gold Coast" because of the many wealthy people who have houses here.
The first place beyond Zurich on the northeast side of the lake is Küsnacht (427 m/1,401ft), a town of 12,000 inhabitants, with a church first mentioned in the records in 1158. The present building dates from the 15th C. and has wall-paintings in the choir. Also of interest are the "Höchhus", a 15th C. tower house, and a former commandery of the Knights of St John, now a teachers' training college. 3km/2mi southeast lies Erlenbach.
An exhibition with local flavor with a village reconstruction, 20th C costumes and hairstyles.
Erlenbach (415 m/1,362ft), beautifully set at the foot of the "Zur Schips" estate (sumptuous banqueting hall in the house) with Mariahalde, an elegant country house in Neo-Classical style (1770). 5km/3mi beyond this is Meilen.
The chief town of the northast shore of Lake Zurich is Meilen (423 m/1,388ft; pop. 10,000). The Protestant church by the lake was given to Einsiedeln Abbey by the Emperor Otto the Great in 965; the choir in its present form dates from 1493-1495. From Meilen a steep road (5km/3mi) goes up to the Pfannenstiel (853 m/2,799ft), the highest peak on the north side of the lake, from which there are extensive views. There is a car ferry to Horgen on the south side of the lake. About 7km/4mi southeast is Stäfa.
Address: Schulhausstrasse 7, CH-8706 Meilen, Switzerland
Stäfa (417 m/1,368ft; pop. 7,000) is the largest commune on the north side of Lake Zurich, taking in Uerikon, Oetikon and many small hamlets. The reformed church, restored in the 1980s, stands on a hill overlooking the village. The origins of the Classical parish church go back to the period before the end of the first millennium and show that the church, dedicated to St Verena, was owned by Einsiedeln Monastery. In Uerikon, on the lake, are two interesting old manor houses and a 16th C. chapel.
9km/6mi east of Stäfa is Rapperswill, where the Winterthur road comes in on the left. From here a causeway (930 m/1,017yd long) crosses between the main part of Lake Zurich and the Obersee on the left to the peninsula of Hurden. Here there is a fishing village popular with summer visitors (chapel of 1497), and Pfäffikon, from which it is possible to return to Zurich either by the lakeside road or by the highway.
North shore Driving Tour
This driving tour takes in the towns of Jona, Wurmsbach and Uznach.
From Rapperswill the route along the northeast shore of Lake Zurich runs along the north shore of the Obersee into the canton of St Gallen, to the industrial district of Jona in the fertile area at the mouth of the river Jona.
In the Jona district are the former Cistercian nunnery of Wurmsbach (16th-17th C.), now occupied by a girls' boarding school, and the 15th C. church of St Dionys, with wall-paintings of the same date.
At the east end of Lake Zurich lies the village of Schmerikon (415 m/1,362ft). At the east end of the lake in the Linth plain we reach the neat little town of Uznach (414 m/1,358ft), with the Kreuzkirche (1494-1505) and a cemetery chapel of 1679. Quite near the town stands the modern Benedictine missionary house of St Otmarsberg. From the road junction at Kaltbrun, to the southeast, it is possible to continue either north via Ricken to Wattwil or south via Näfels to Glarus.
Lake Zurich - Southwest Shore Driving Tour
This driving tour includes the following sights:Kilchberg, Rüschlikon and the IBM Research Center, Thalwil, Horgen, Wädenswil, Richterswil, Wollerau and Pfäffikon.
From Zurich road 3 follows the southwest shore of the lake past a long string of old villages and modern villas surrounded by gardens, with many beaches. In 6km/4mi it reaches Kilchberg (427 m/1,401ft) on the hillside to the right of the road. This was the home of the Swiss writer Conrad Ferdinard Meyer (1825-1898) from 1875 onwards, and the German novelist Thomas Mann (1875-1955) and his wife (d. 1980) spent the last years of their lives here. Their graves are in the churchyard on the south side of the little church.
The work room of poet Conrad Ferdinand Meyers (1825-1898) complete with furniture, library, pictures and personal effects plus exhibits of porcelain.
Rüschlikon - IBM Research Center
Beyond Kilchberg is the village of Rüschlikon (435 m/1,427ft), with the well-known IBM works near the Zurich-Sargans highway. The research center of the International Business Machines Corporation is one of the leading laboratories of the American multi-national concern. In 1986 the two IBM researchers G. Binnig and H. Rohrer received the Nobel prize for physics for their raster-tunnel microscope which was developed in Rüschlikon, and one year later two other physicists working in the laboratory, J. G. Bednorz and K. A. Müller, won the Nobel prize for their super-conductor for electric current. In the local cemetery lies the Swiss industrialist G. Duttweiler (1888-1962), who founded in 1925 the Migros food company.
3km/2mi from Rüschlikon is Thalwil, a small town of 13,000 inhabitants with an old-established silk industry.
5km/3mi beyond Thalwil is Horgen (411 m/1,348ft; pop. 16,000) a long straggling industrial township with a Baroque church of 1782 containing fine frescoes of 1875. In the local museum by the lake (Alte Sust, Bahnhofstrasse 27) can be seen prehistoric finds from the lakeside settlement of Horgen as well as exhibits of local handicraft. There is a car ferry to Meilen on the north shore of the lake.
Sust - Local Museum
Hirzel - Johanna-Spyri Museum
A collection exhibiting the life and work of Johanna Spyri (1827-1901), author of Heidi, is exhibited in the schoolhouse Spyri attended.
5.5km/3mi from the Au Peninsula is Wädenswil (411 m/1,348ft), an industrial town of 15,000 inhabitants. Above the town the Neues Schloss (1518) houses the Federal Fruit-Growing Viticultural and Horticultural Research Station.In Wädenswiler Grüntal a museum (Mosterama) was opened in 1988. Here the refining of local-grown fruit and the development of its use is explained from its inception up to the present. From here a road branches off to the right over the Hirzel-Höhe (750 m/ 2,461ft) to Sihlbrugg (18km/11mi).
About 4km/2mi from Wädenswil is Richterswil (411 m/1,348ft), beautifully situated in a cove of the lake. Above the village are two churches from the terraces of which there are fine views.
From Richterswil a road on the right climbs 3km/2mi southeast to Wollerau (507 m/ 1,663ft) with a neo-Classical church (1787), and then winds its way steeply up, with fine views, for another 3km/2mi to Schindellegi.The road to Pfäffikon beyond Richterswil enters the canton of Schwyz and continues along the side of the lake which here attains its greatest width (4km/2mi).
In Freienbach (416 m/1,365ft) is a Baroque church. Leaving the town, the islets of Ufenau and Lützelau come into view and straight ahead can be seen the peaks of the Tuggenburg range.
2km/1mi from Freienbach is Pfäffikon (415 m/1,362ft; pop. 4,000) at the southern end of the causeway across the lake, with the castle (13th C. tower) which belonged to Einsiedeln Abbey. At the northern end of the causeway is Rapperswil.
South Shore Driving Tour
The road running along the south side of Lake Zurich, known beyond the causeway as the Oberer Zürichsee or Obersee (upper lake), passes the Etzelwerk power station and comes to Altendorf (430 m/1,411ft). 1.5km/1mi beyond this off the road to the left is Lachen. On a hill to the right (505 m/1,657ft; road half-way up) stands the 15th C. St John's Chapel, which was built on the ruins of the old castle of Alt-Rapperswil (destroyed 1350). 3km/2mi further on is Lachen (420 m/1,378ft; bypass), attractively situated on the Obersee; it has a fine twin-towered Roccoco church (1700-1710), designed by the Thumb brothers of Vorarlberg. Northeast of Lachen at the east end of the lake is Uznach.