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Lake Lucerne
View of Lake Lucerne from the Pilatus
Location Central Switzerland
Coordinates 47°01′10″N 8°24′04″E / 47.0194°N 8.4011°E / 47.0194; 8.4011Coordinates: 47°01′10″N 8°24′04″E / 47.0194°N 8.4011°E / 47.0194; 8.4011
Lake type Reservoir
Primary inflows Reuss River
Sarner Aa
Engelberger Aa
Primary outflows Reuss River
Catchment area 2,124 km2 (820 sq mi)
Basin countries Switzerland
Max. length 30 km (19 mi)
Max. width 20 km (12 mi)
Surface area 113.6 km2 (43.9 sq mi)
Average depth 104 m (340 ft)
Max. depth 214 m (700 ft)
Water volume 11.8 km3 (9,600,000 acre·ft)
Residence time 3.4 years
Shore length1 143.7 km (89.3 mi)
Surface elevation 433 m (1,420 ft)
Frozen in the 17th and 19th century; Lucerne Bay and Lake Alpnach in 1929 and 1963
Islands Altstad-Insel
Sections/sub-basins Urnersee
Settlements Lucerne (see article)
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Lake Lucerne (German: Vierwaldstättersee, lit. "Lake of the Four Forested Cantons") is a lake in central Switzerland, the fourth largest in the country.



The lake is a complicated shape, with bends and arms reaching from the city of Lucerne into the mountains. It has a total area of 114 km² (44 sq mi), an elevation of 434 m (1,424 ft), and a maximum depth of 214 m (702 ft). Its volume is 11.8 km³. Much of the shoreline rises steeply into mountains up to 1,500 m above the lake, resulting in many picturesque views including those of Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus.

It borders on the three original Swiss cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden (which today is divided into the Cantons of Obwalden and Nidwalden), as well as the canton of Lucerne, thus the name. Many of the oldest communities of Switzerland are along the shore, including Küssnacht, Weggis, Vitznau, Gersau, Brunnen, Altdorf, Buochs, and Treib. In addition, the meadow of the Rütli, traditional site of the founding of the Swiss Confederation, is on the southeast shore of the lake.

The Reuss River enters the lake at Flüelen (in the canton of Uri, the part called Urnersee) and exits at Lucerne. The lake also receives the Muota (at Brunnen) Engelberger Aa (at Buochs), the Sarner Aa (at Alpnachstad).

It is possible to circumnavigate the lake by road, though the route is slow, twisted, and goes through tunnels part of the way. Dozens of steamers ply between the different towns on the lake. It is a popular tourist destination, both for native Swiss and foreigners, and there are many hotels and resorts along the shores.

Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata derives its name from an 1832 description of the first movement by music critic Ludwig Rellstab, who compared it to moonlight shining upon Lake Lucerne.

A 35km commemorative walkway, the Swiss Path, was built around the lake to celebrate the country's 700th anniversary.

The level of the lake is maintained by a pioneering needle dam in the Reuss River in Lucerne, just upstream from the Spreuerbrücke.

The lake's surface is the lowest point of the cantons of Uri, Obwalden and Nidwalden.


West shore ¹ East shore

¹ At the entry of the Reuss River: the western, later southern shore.


This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.

External links


Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|240px|View toward Uri]]

File:Schweiz - Vierwaldstättersee - Beckenried
View of Lake Lucerne near the town of Beckenried

Lake Lucerne is a lake in central Switzerland. It is the fourth largest lake in the country. The German name is Vierwaldstättersee which means: "Lake of the Four Forested Cantons".

It is possible to travel all the way round the side of the lake by road. There are several tunnels on the way. It is very popular with tourists. There are many hotels by the lake.

  • Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata gets its name because, in 1832, a music critic Ludwig Rellstab said it was like the moonlight shining on Lake Lucerne.

Other websites

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