If you are going to visit Hanoi, it is very likely that Hoan Kiem lake is one of the first things to see here. The lake is located in the heart of the city and only minutes away from the Old Quarter. For Hanoians, it is a symbol of the long-established history and culture of the capital city which is associated to the legend of magic sword. Besides, it is also a scenic green space and relaxing escape from busy crowded streets in the Old Quarter.The more you spend time learning about the lake, the more special it becomes.Legend has it that during the war against the Minh invaders in the 15th century, King Le Thai To was given a priceless fairy Sword by the Golden Turtle God. After ten years of continuous struggling against the aggressor, the King finally defeated the Chinese and reclaimed the nation’s independence. One day, while the King took a boat trip on the lake, a giant turtle rose up and snatched the sword from him and disappeared into the depths and it never to be found again. The King mourned the loss of such a valuable sword, yet could not find either the turtle or the sword. He realized that the God must have lent him the sword to fight off the enemy, but then his kingdom was liberated, the sword must be returned. Since then, King Le Thai To named the lake Ho Hoan Kiem or Lake of the Restore Sword In addition, he ordered to build a moss-grown Turtle Tower in the middle of the lake to commemorate the Turtle God for his great support.
Add to the beauty of Hoan Kiem Lake, there are Ngoc Son Temple which means “The Temple of the Jade Mountain”, The Huc Bridge which means “Where the sun light is absorbed and Thap But whichmeans “Pen Tower” . This complex of historical architecture is situated on a small green hill nearby Though having gone through lots of restoration work, writing relic of Confucian master Nguyen Van Sieu on Pen Tower “Ta Thien Thanh” which means “Write on blue sky” is still well-preserved. Nearby the Pen Tower, there is a small stone pool symbolizing an ink well. Next to the ink well is the charming scarlet-pained wooden Huc Bridge leading to Dac Nguyet Lau (or “Moon Light Tower”). Beyond the gates to the shrine, the names of students who passed the national test in Ly dynasty were inscribed on two walls so-called “Bang Rong” and “Bang Ho” ( Dragon and Tiger Slate).
Hoan Kiem Lake is also famous for giant turtles. They can only find in this lake and are rare to be seen. But in April 2011, a turtle was captured for the first time and given veterinary care. It was about 80 to 100 years old and weighed in at around 440 pounds.
Sit down on a stone bench, enjoy the view and chat with some local friends make you feel like a local here!