Lech (river)

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Karte einzugsbereich lech.png
Drainage basin of the Lech
Country Germany, Austria
Physical characteristics
Main source Northern Limestone Alps
1,865 metres (6,119 ft)
River mouth Danube
48°44′6″N 10°56′11″E / 48.73500°N 10.93639°E / 48.73500; 10.93639Coordinates: 48°44′6″N 10°56′11″E / 48.73500°N 10.93639°E / 48.73500; 10.93639
Length 255.3 km (158.6 mi) [1]
  • Average rate:
    115 m3/s (4,100 cu ft/s)
Basin features
Progression DanubeBlack Sea
Basin size 3,919 km2 (1,513 sq mi) [1]

The Lech (Latin: Licus, Licca) is a river in Austria and Germany. It is a right tributary of the Danube 255 kilometres (158 mi) in length with a drainage basin of 3,919 square kilometres (1,513 sq mi).[1] Its source is located in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg, where the river rises from lake Formarinsee in the Alps at an altitude of 1,870 metres (6,120 ft). It flows in a north-north-easterly direction and crosses the German border, forming the Lechfall, a 12-metre-high (39 ft) waterfall; afterwards the river enters a narrow gorge (the Lechschlucht). Leaving the Alps, it enters the plains of the Allgäu at Füssen at an elevation of 790 metres (2,580 ft) in the German state of Bavaria, where it used to be the location of the boundary with Swabia. The river runs through the city of Füssen and through the Forggensee, a man-made lake which is drained in winter. Here, it forms rapids and a waterfall.

The river flows further northwards through a region called the Lechrain, and passes the cities of Schongau, Landsberg, Augsburg (where it receives the Wertach) and Rain before entering the Danube just below Donauwörth at an elevation of 410 metres (1,330 ft). It is not navigable, owing to its torrential character and the gravel beds which choke its channel. There are extensive views of the Lech valley from Neuschwanstein Castle, near Füssen.


Inscriptions from 8/7 B. C. prove that the river name is first mentioned in the Celtic tribe name Licates. The river itself is called Likios or Likias in the 2nd century. Around the year 570 the name Licca is found in records. In the 8th century, names such as Lecha and Lech appeared. The term Licus is still used in 1059.

The name stands in analogy to the Welsh word llech ("stone slab") and the Breton word lec'h ("gravestone"). In this context, the meaning of the word "Lech" is explained as "the stony".[2]


On more than one occasion, historic events have been decided on the banks of this river.


  • Eberhard Pfeuffer: Der Lech. Wissner-Verlag, Augsburg 2010, ISBN 3-89639-768-0.
  • R. Zettl: Lechauf-lechab. Wißner-Verlag 2002, ISBN 3-89639-316-2.
  • Dr. Peter Nowotny: Erlebnis Lech. Verlag – J. Eberl KG, Immenstadt 2001.
  • Dr. Bernhard Raster: Nutzung und anthropogene Veränderung des Lechs in historischer Zeit. Diss. Würzburg 1979.
  • Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv (Hrsg.): Altbayerische Flusslandschaften an Donau, Lech, Isar und Inn. = Ausstellungskatalog, Anton H. Konrad, Verlag Weißenhorn 1998.
  • Werner Gamerith: Lechtal. Tyrolia Verlag, Innsbruck-Wien 2002.
  • Peter Nasemann: Lebensraum Füssener Lech. Holdenrieds Druck- und Verlags GmbH, o. J.
  • Norbert Müller: Augsburger Ökologische Schriften, Heft 2: Der Lech. Stadt Augsburg 1991, ISSN 0941-2123
  1. ^ a b c Complete table of the Bavarian Waterbody Register by the Bavarian State Office for the Environment (xls, 10.3 MB)
  2. ^ "Wolf-Armin Frhr. v. Reitzenstein: Lexikon bayerischer Ortsnamen. Herkunft und Bedeutung. C.H.Beck, Munich 2006

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