Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Sword Lake, is a top natural landscapes and a famous tourism spot in Hanoi. This is a natural freshwater lake located in the center of Hanoi city, surrounded by streets in Hanoi Old Quarters including Le Thai To street and Dinh Tien Hoang street in the east, and Hang Khay street in the south.
In the past, the lake was variously named “Luc Thuy Lake”, meaning “Green Water Lake” – aptly named for the water’s color or “Thuy Quan Lake” meaning “Mariner’s Lake”. The lake has an area of about 12 hectares.
The name Hoan Kiem Lake appeared in the early 15th century associated with the legend of King Le Loi returning a precious sword to the Turtle. According to legend, once King Le Loi roamed on a boat, suddenly a golden turtle emerged into the water demanding the king to return the sword that Long Vuong borrowed to drive away the invading Minh army. The king immediately returned the sword to the magic turtle and the diving turtle disappeared. From there the lake was named Hoan Kiem Lake. The name of the lake was also given to a central district of Hanoi (Hoan Kiem district) and is the only lake of this district to this day.
The major landscape of Hoan Kiem Lake area are Ngoc Son temple, Turtle tower, The Huc Bridge.
Ngoc Son temple, one of the special cultural symbols of the Capital. Ngoc Son Temple worships Van Xuong as the star of the literature election and worships Tran Hung Dao, grand Prince Hưng Đạo, was an imperial prince, statesman and military commander of Đại Việt military forces during the Trần Dynasty. Ngoc Son Temple was built around the 19th century. This is one of the typical architecture in Hanoi. Ngoc Son Temple is not only a famous spiritual tourist destination but also a place to bring visitors home and abroad impressive experience. Local people also often come here to pray for the good luck.
Turtle Tower is an architectural construction that is considered a typical mark of Sword Lake. The tower’s name is Quy Son tower that is the Mountain Tower of the Turtle (because it is a natural island, in the summer, the tortoise often comes here to sun and lay eggs).
Turtle Tower was built around 1884-1886.The tower was built on a large mound of about 350m2, in a square with 3 floors, the lower floor is built wider, then scaled up to the upper floor which is a combination of European architectural style with rows of wooden doors. The area of two floors below but the curved roof holds the architectural style of Vietnam. Turtle Tower has become a familiar image for every Hanoian, Vietnamese and foreigner tourists.
The Huc Bridge leads to the gate of Ngoc Son temple, built by the famous artist Nguyen Van Sieu in 1865. The name of the bridge means “a place of early morning sunlight”
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