Hoan Kiem Lake or Sword Lake which is a green lake as a mirror of Hanoi, a beautiful basket of flowers, a place of love, being surrounede by Hanoi old quarter. It was one part of the Red River. Throughout thousands of years of geographical changes, Hoan Kiem Lake moved eastward to its present position kilometers from the river.
Before the famous historical legend of King Le Loi, the lake used to be called Luc Thuy Lake (it means Green Water Lake in Vietnamese) because the water was green all the year round. In 15th century, it was called Sword Lake after the legend of Emperor Le Thai To.
6 centuries ago in Le Dynasty witness the legendary story of one of the beautiful lake. During the war against the Minh aggressors, there is Golden Turtle God who gave King Le Thai To a precious fairy sword. After ten years of continuous struggling, the King finally won and reclaimed the nation’s independence. After that, on a nice day, while boating on Luc Thuy Lake, a large turtle came towards him and asked to return the previous sword.
It immediately grabbed the sword and submerged. The King mourned the loss of such a valuable sword, but could not find either the turtle or the sword. He realized that the God must have lent him the sword so that he could drive back the enemy, then his nation was free, the sword must be returned. Hence, King Le Thai To named the lake as the Sword Lake.
Sword Lake – Hoan Kiem Lake in the past
Nowadays, the Sword Lake is located inside a complex of Ngoc Son Temple, The Huc Bridge, and Pen Tower in the surroundings, make a sparkling colorful natural picture. They are also one of the most famous destination in Vietnam. Ngoc Son Temple has undergone numerous renovations, one among which was the addition of Pen Tower on its hill, which was called Dao Tai. There are three words “Ta Thien Thanh” inscribed on the tower, it means write on blue sky. Inside the gate, a pool resembling the shape of an ink well was added. Beyond the ink well is The The Huc Bridge, it means “where the sun light is absorbed”. The Bridge leads to Dac Nguyet Lau which means Moon Light tower in Vietnamese – Ngoc Son shrine. Beyond the gates to the shrine, there are 2 walls named bang Rong and bang Ho (dragon and tiger slate), where names of people who passed the national test were inscribed.
Things that you should not miss in this beautiful complex is the Turtle Tower lying in the middle of the Lake, it reminds Vietnamese people of the Turtle God of his great assistance.
Despite the time’s ashes and dust, Sword Lake which is the beautiful historical and legendary place is eternal for good as an evidence of a fairy and heroic Hanoi during the past wars, and a charming and romantic Hanoi nowadays.