For other uses, see Limmat (disambiguation).

The Limmat in Zürich, looking downstream to Rathausbrücke from Quaibrücke at Lake Zurich, Stadthausquai to the left and Limmatquai to right.
Country Switzerland
Cantons Zurich, Aargau
Settlements Zürich (ZH), Schlieren (ZH), Dietikon (ZH), Oetwil a.d.L. (ZH), Wettingen (AG), Baden (AG), Ennetbaden (AG), Nussbaumen (AG), Turgi (AG), Untersiggenthal (AG)
Main source Lake Zurich, Zurich
406 m (1,332 ft)
47°22′00″N 8°32′35″E / 47.36677°N 8.54316°E / 47.36677; 8.54316 (Primary source of Limmat)
River mouth Aare, Gebenstorf
328 m (1,076 ft)
47°30′07″N 8°14′15″E / 47.5019°N 8.2375°E / 47.5019; 8.2375 (Mouth of Limmat)Coordinates: 47°30′07″N 8°14′15″E / 47.5019°N 8.2375°E / 47.5019; 8.2375 (Mouth of Limmat)
Alt. difference 78 m (256 ft)
Progression AareRhineNorth Sea
Basin size 2,416 km2 (933 sq mi) (Lake Zurich and Linth included)
Physical characteristics
Length 36.3 kilometres (22.6 mi), 140 kilometres (87 mi) (Lake Zurich and Linth included)
  • Location:
  • Minimum rate:
    69.2 m3/s (2,440 cu ft/s) (MNQ 1951-2013),
    24.6 m3/s (870 cu ft/s) (NNQ, 2003)
  • Average rate:
    101.0 m3/s (3,570 cu ft/s) (MQ 1951-2013)
  • Maximum rate:
    141 m3/s (5,000 cu ft/s) (MHQ 1951-2013),
    657 m3/s (23,200 cu ft/s) (HHQ, 1999)
  • Left:
    Sihl, Schäflibach, Reppisch, Dorfbach Spreitenbach
  • Right:
    Länggenbach, Furtbach, Lugibach, Gottesgraben
Waterbodies Lake Zurich, Stausee Wettingen
Rathausbrücke and Hotel zum Storchen at Weinplatz in Zürich
The confluence of the Limmat and Sihl, just downstream of Zurich city centre
Letten Power Station in Zurich
Kloster Fahr on the Limmat
The Limmat in Ennetbaden
The confluence of the Aare (to the left) and Limmat

The Limmat is a river in Switzerland. The river commences at the outfall of Lake Zurich, in the southern part of the city of Zurich. From Zurich it flows in a northwesterly direction, after 35 km reaching the river Aare. The confluence is located north of the small town of Brugg and shortly after the mouth of the Reuss.

The main towns along the Limmat Valley downstream of Zurich are Dietikon, Wettingen, and Baden. Its main tributaries are the Linth, via Lake Zurich, the Sihl, in Zurich, and the Reppisch, in Dietikon.

The hydronym is first attested in the 8th century, as Lindimacus. It is of Gaulish origin, from *lindo- "lake" and *magos "plain", and was thus presumably in origin the name of the plain formed by the Linth.[1]

Power generation

Like many Swiss rivers, the Limmat is intensively used for production of hydroelectric power: along its course of 35 km (22 mi), its fall is used by no less than ten hydroelectric power stations. These include:

Station Capacity (MW) Location Geographic coordinates
Aue Power Station[2] 3.9 Baden 47°28′13″N 8°18′40″E / 47.47034°N 8.31098°E / 47.47034; 8.31098 (Aue Power Station)
Dietikon Power Station[3] 2.6 Dietikon 47°24′36″N 8°24′30″E / 47.410137°N 8.408344°E / 47.410137; 8.408344 (Dietikon Power Station)
Höngg Power Station[4] 1 Zurich 47°24′07″N 8°29′13″E / 47.401835°N 8.487035°E / 47.401835; 8.487035 (Höngg Power Station)
Kappelerhof Power Station[2] 6.8 Baden 47°29′04″N 8°17′35″E / 47.484469°N 8.292945°E / 47.484469; 8.292945 (Kappelerhof Power Station)
Letten Power Station[5] 4 Zurich 47°23′15″N 8°31′56″E / 47.387396°N 8.532321°E / 47.387396; 8.532321 (Letten Power Station)
Schiffmühle Power Station[2] 2.6 Untersiggenthal 47°29′19″N 8°15′54″E / 47.488687°N 8.264937°E / 47.488687; 8.264937 (Schiffmühle Power Station)
Turgi Power Station[2] 1 Turgi
Wettingen Power Station[6] 26 Wettingen 47°27′24″N 8°19′14″E / 47.456554°N 8.320631°E / 47.456554; 8.320631 (Wettingen Power Station)
This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.

Historically, the Limmat was an important navigation route. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, voyages from Zurich to Koblenz are recorded. In 1447, the Emperor Frederick III granted the privilege of free navigation on the Limmat and on the Rhine to Zurich. Because of the current, navigation was typically downstream only, with the barges being sold on arrival.[7]

Today, the Limmat is navigable for much of its length by small craft only, with many of the hydroelectric power plants incorporating boat lifts. The traditional boat type used on the river is the weidling, a flat-bottomed vessel that is usually 10 metres (33 ft) long.[8][9]

The uppermost stretch of the river through the centre of Zurich is navigable by rather larger vessels, albeit limited by low bridges. On this stretch of the river the Zürichsee-Schifffahrtsgesellschaft (Lake Zurich Navigation Company) operates its Limmat boat service, from the Landesmuseum to Lake Zurich, using low-profile motor boats.[10]

Towns near the river

Cultural Heritage

Located on the then swamp land between Limmat and Zürichsee around Sechseläutzenplatz on small islands and peninsulas in Zürich, Prehistoric pile dwellings around Zürichsee were set on piles to protect against occasional flooding by the Linth and Jona. Zürich–Enge Alpenquai is located on Zürichsee lakeshore in Enge, a locality of the municipality of Zürich. It was neighbored by the settlements at Kleiner Hafner and Grosser Hafner on a then peninsula respectively island in the effluence of the Limmat, within an area of about 0.2 square kilometres (49.42 acres) in the city of Zürich. As well as being part of the 56 Swiss sites of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps, the settlement is also listed in the Swiss inventory of cultural property of national and regional significance as a Class object.[11][12][13]


  1. Felix Stähelin (1935), "Die vorrömische Schweiz im Lichte geschichtlicher Zeugnisse und sprachlicher Tatsachen", Zeitschrift für schweizerische Geschichte (in German), Leemann, Band 15, pp. 337–368
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Limmat Power Generation". Regional Werke AG Baden. Retrieved 2013-04-25.
  3. "Flusskraftwerk Dietikon". Elektrizitätswerke des Kantons Zürich. Retrieved 2013-04-25.
  4. "Kraftwerk Höngg". City of Zurich. Retrieved 2013-04-25.
  5. "Kraftwerk Letten". City of Zurich. Retrieved 2013-04-25.
  6. "Kraftwerk Wettingen". City of Zurich. Retrieved 2013-04-25.
  7. "Limmat". Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (in German). Retrieved 2013-04-24.
  8. "Funicular Boat Lifts of Switzerland". Retrieved 2013-04-24.
  9. "Clubportrait Schiffe" (in German). Retrieved 2013-04-24.
  10. "Limmat river cruises". Zürichsee-Schifffahrtsgesellschaft. Retrieved 2013-04-24.
  11. "A-Objekte KGS-Inventar". Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, Amt für Bevölkerungsschutz. 2009. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
  12. "Prehistoric Pile Dwellings in Switzerland". Swiss Coordination Group UNESCO Palafittes ( Retrieved 2014-12-10.
  13. "World Heritage". Retrieved 2014-12-10.
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