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The Weser near Bad Oeynhausen
The Weser near Bad Oeynhausen

The Weser (German pronunciation: [ˈveːzɐ]) is a river in Northwestern Germany. Formed at Hannoversch Münden by the confluence of the rivers Fulda and Werra, it flows through Lower Saxony, then reaching the Hanseatic city of Bremen, before emptying 50 km (31 mi) further north at Bremerhaven into the North Sea. On the opposite (west) bank is the town of Nordenham at the foot of the Butjadingen Peninsula; thus, the mouth of the river is in Lower Saxony. The Weser has an overall length of 452 km (281 mi). Together with its Werra tributary, which originates in Thuringia, its length is 744 km (462 mi).


Linguistically, the names of both rivers, Weser and Werra, go back to the same source, the differentiation being caused by the old linguistic border between Upper and Lower German, which touched the region of Hannoversch Münden.

The name Weser parallels the names of other rivers, such as the Wear in England and the Vistula in Poland, all of which are ultimately derived from the root weis- "to flow", which gave Old English/Old Frisian wāse "mud, ooze", Old Norse veisa "slime, stagnant pool", Dutch waas "haze; soggy land" (see Waasland), Old Saxon waso "wet ground, mire", Old High German wasal "rain", and French vase "mud, sludge".


The Weser River lies entirely within German national territory, making it the longest such river.

The upper part of its course leads through a hilly region called the Weserbergland. It extends from the confluence of the Fulda and the Werra to the Porta Westfalica, where it runs through a gorge between two mountain chains, the Wiehengebirge in the west and the Weserbergland in the east.

Between Minden and the North Sea, humans have largely canalised the river, permitting ships up to 1,200 tons to navigate it. Eight hydroelectric dams stand along its length. It is linked to the Dortmund–Ems Canal via the Coastal Canal, and another canal links it at Bremerhaven to the Elbe River. A large reservoir on the Eder River, the main tributary of the Fulda, is used to regulate water levels on the Weser so as to ensure adequate depth for shipping throughout the year. The dam, built in 1914, was bombed and severely damaged by British aircraft in May 1943, causing massive destruction and about 70 deaths downstream, but was rebuilt within four months. As of 2013, the Edersee Reservoir, a major summer resort area, provides substantial hydroelectricity.

The Weser enters the North Sea in the southernmost part of the German Bight. In the North Sea, it splits into two arms representing the ancient riverbed at the end of the last ice age. These sea arms are called Alte Weser (old Weser) and Neue Weser (new Weser). They represent the major waterways for ships heading for the harbors of Bremerhaven, Nordenham, and Bremen. The Alte Weser Lighthouse marks the northernmost point of the Weser. This lighthouse replaced the historic and famous Roter Sand Lighthouse in 1964.


The largest tributary of the Weser is the Aller, which joins south of Bremen. The tributaries of the Weser and the Werra (from source to mouth) are:

Modes of the list:

  • Listed upstream, but sides seen with the flow
  • Distances ("km …") from the hydrographical limit towards the sea "II", "III"and "IV" mark distances of secondary/tertiary tributaries from the confluence with the Weser etc.
  • After the names, lengths and basin sizes are given.
  • Lengths with longer affluents are given behind the slash, lengths including an upper course with another name with "or"


  • km 19, right: Geeste (in Bremerhaven), 42.5 km, 338 km²
  • km 33, right: Lune, 43 km, 383 km²
  • km 35.9, right: Drepte, 37.6 km, 101 km²
  • km 52.8, left: Hunte, 189 km, 2.785 km² II: km 125.7: Lake Dümmer
  • km 67.6, right: Lesum, 9.9 or 131.5, 2,188 km² II: km 9.9, right Hamme, 48.5 km, 549 km² ↑ main stream: Wümme, 118 / 120, 1,585 km²
  • km 72.5, left: Ochtum, 25.6 or 45 km, 917 km² II: km 25.6: left Hache, 33 km, 118 km²
  • km 125.6, right: Aller, 260 km, 15,744 km² II: km 63.6, left: Leine, 278 km, 5,617 km², stronger than river Aller above III: km 112.7, right: Innerste, 99.7 km, 1,264 km² III: km 192.8, right: Rhume, 44 km, 1,193 km², stronger than river Leine above IV: km 15.6, right: Oder, 56 km, 385 km², headwater of the strongest waterway of Aller system II: km 97.3, right: Örtze, 62 / 70 km, 760 km² II: km 140.7, left: Oker, 218 km, 1822 km², stronger than river Aller above
  • km 184.6, right: Steinhuder Meerbach ↑ km II: 29 lake Steinhuder Meer
  • km 188.7, left: Große Aue, 84.5 km, 1,522 km²
  • km 261.3, left: Werre, 71.9 km, 1485 km² II: km 12.7, left: Else, 34.6 km, 416 km², branch of the Hase, an affluent of Ems
  • km 287.7, left: Exter, 26.1 km, 109 km²
  • km 323.3, left: Emmer, 61.8 km, 535 km²
  • km 387.5, left: Nethe, 50.4 km, 460 km²
  • km 406.5, left: Diemel, 110.5 km, 1,762 km²
  • km 451.5, left: Fulda, 220.4 km, 6.947 km²
  • ↑ main stream above km 451.5: Werra, 299.6 km, 5.497 km²
  • km 566.5, righht: Hörsel, 55.2 or 64.3, 784 km² km 9.8, right: Nesse, 54.5 km, 426 km²
  • km 513.1, left: Ulster, 57.2 km, 421 km²
  • km 604.4, right: Schleuse, 34.2 km, 283 km²

Notable towns

Towns along the Weser, from the confluence of Werra and Fulda to the mouth, include: Hann. Münden, Beverungen, Höxter, Holzminden, Bodenwerder, Hameln, Hessisch Oldendorf, Rinteln, Vlotho, Bad Oeynhausen, Porta Westfalica, Minden, Petershagen, Nienburg, Achim, Bremen, Brake, Nordenham, Bremerhaven.

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