The Lake of Returned Sword
There are numerous interesting things which make visitors impressive when they come to Hanoi, especially lakes here. They are considered as the lung of the city. Hanoi has a plenty of lakes, but Hoan Kiem Lake or Sword Lake is in its cultural and historical heart. It is much smaller than West Lake, but the Old Quarter wraps around it, making for a relaxing escape from the bustle and chaos of the Old Quarter’s streets.
In the middle of the lake is a small island with a small stone Pagoda. Of course, you cannot get to it because there are no boats or bridges to the island. According to its legend, this lake witnessed heroic past of the country. Initially, the small islet featured the Ta Vong Temple which was built during the eighteenth-century by the Trinh rulers. Nevertheless, it disappeared during the reign of the powerful Nguyen. The foundation of the tower traces back to the end of the nineteenth century when the French forces dominated the country. A Vietnamese bureaucrat who worked for the French government received permission to construct a tower in memory of Le Loi who led the Vietnamese people to victory against the forces of Ming dynasty in the fifteenth century. In the past, Le Loi King was endowed with great strength by a mystical sword which had been given by a Golden Turtle God. The sword helped him to unite the forces and secure victory to protect the independence of the country. Nowadays, people said that the sword is guarded by a magical turtle in Hoan Kiem Lake. The Turtle Tower has the unique architecture which combined local Vietnamese and French colonial architecture. The ground floor, as well as the first floors, has 3 doors on both eastern and western sides of the tower. The northern and southern sides have two doors. The first and the top floor are fenced with vertical and horizontal rails. Atop the Turtle Tower is a version of the “Statue of Liberty”, which was placed by the French. Nevertheless, it was removed when the Tran Trong Kim regime gained control of the city in 1945. During the French colonial time, the local people would often hang Vietnam’s revolutionary flag from the tower to show their defiant spirit.
When you come here, you can get to the other bigger island on the lake called Jade Island. To access there, you have to cross a small bright red wooden Bridge named The Huc Bridge which leads to the entrance of an eighteenth-century Buddhist temple – the Temple of the Jade Mountain.
The clean waters of the lake at night set off the city lights beautifully. However, it is much more shimmering by a plenty of lights around parts of the lake wall and on Jade Island.
Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the most attractive places in Hanoi. It is a beautiful and historical place where Hanoian people usually relax after a hard-working day. If you have a chance travelling to Hanoi, the citadel of Vietnam, go to Hoan Kiem Lake to enjoy the peace here.