Hoan Kiem lake- the eternal beauty of Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake, Restored Sword Lake, is located at the heart of Hanoi. The lake used to be named Luc Thuy lake (green water lake) since the lake water stays green throughout the whole year.  Hoan Kiem lake was once part of the Red river and has gradually moved eastward to its present position kilometers from the river.  Local people know the tale of the lake by heart.

Hoan Kiem lake- the eternal beauty of Hanoi
Photo by CharlieLe
“Of the many legends and stories told about Lê Lợi, the most famous relates to his magical sword. According to the Legend, the blade of the sword, inscribed with the words The Will of Heaven, came from the Dragon King in his underwater palace. A fisherman, who later joined Lê Lợi’s army, caught the blade of the sword in his net. The hilt was found by Lê Lợi himself in a banyan tree. The stories claim Lê Lợi grew very tall when he used the sword and that it gave him the strength of many men. One day, not long after the Chinese had accepted Viet Nam as an independent country (thanks to Lê Lợi victories), Lê Lợi was out boating on the Green Water Lake. Suddenly a large turtle surfaced, took the sword from Lê Lợi’s belt and dived back into the depths, carrying the glowing sword in his mouth. Lê Lợi then acknowledged that the sword had gone back to the Dragon King with the Golden Turtle, and he renamed the lake The Lake of the Returned Sword: Hoàn Kiếm Lake.”

The central district, Hoan Kiem district is named after this divine lake. Hoan Kiem lake is situated at the intersection point of the Old Quarter including Hang Ngang, Hang Dao, Cau Go, Luong Van Can, Lo Su streets.. and the French Quarter planned by the French colonists, which consists of Bao Khanh, Nha Tho, Trang Thi, Hang Bai, Dinh Tien Hoang, Trang Tien, Hang Khay, Ba Trieu streets. Since the reign of King Le Trung Hung (XVI century), every King in the Lê dynasty, and Lord Trịnh have all contributed to the beauty of the lake. Lord Trịnh Giang built Khanh Thuy shrine on Ngoc Island on the north end of the lake. He also had the two man-made hills built across from Ngoc son Shrine. At the end of the Le Dynasty, Khanh Thuy was toppled by Chieu Thong. A philanthropist named Tin Trai built Ngoc Son pagoda, which was renamed into Ngọc Sơn shrine during the reign of Thieu Tri III (1843) as it was no longer a Buddhist shrine.

Instead, it became a shrine of Van Xuong, a deity, in charge of literature and the various tests required to become a Mandarin. It has also been a shrine of General Trần Hưng Đạo, a national Hero who secured numerous victories against the Mongols.

Hence, Sword Lake is now situated inside a complex of Ngọc Sơn Temple, The Huc Bridge, and Pen Tower in the surroundings, making a sparkling colorful natural picture. They are also Vietnam Popular Destinations. Ngoc Son has undergone a lot of renovations, one among which was the addition of Pen Tower on its hill, which was once called Dao Tai. Three words were inscribed on the tower: “Ta Thien Thanh” or “write on blue sky”. Inside the gate a pool resembling the shape of an inkstone was added. Beyond the ink well is The Huc Bridge, which means “where the sunlight is absorbed”. The bridge leads to Dac Nguyet Lau (or Moon Light tower) – Ngoc Son shrine. Beyond the gates to the shrine, there are two walls called bang Rong and bang Ho (dragon and tiger slate), where the names of those who passed the national test were inscribed.

What could not be missed in this beautiful complex is the Turtle Tower, which lies in the middle of the Lake, so as to remind Vietnamese people of the Turtle God of his great assistance. It was told that King Lê Thánh Tông used to fish here. Lord Trịnh also built the structure to house his entourage while visiting the lake.

   If you still don't have any specific plan to discover Vietnam, you can refer to the these Vietnam tour schedules. We offer many different types of travel from adventure tours to luxury cruises or beach holidays in Vietnam to help tourists to fully explore Vietnam in landscapes, culture as well as cuisine.

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