Hoan Kiem Lake

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The Lake is right at the City centre. Hoan Kiem Lake means “Returned Sword" Lake or Lake of the Restored Sword, or also known as Hồ Gươm - Sword Lake. The Lake is one of the major scenic spots in the city and serves as a focal point for its public life. A lot of tourists during the trip to Hanoi often take an exploring cyclo ride around the Lake. There are also lots of grassy areas around the Lake for the kids and their family to burn off their energy. Or tourists can take a walk over the small beautiful red bridge and visit Ngoc Son Temple.

According to the legend, After ten years of hard fighting (1418 – 1428), the Lam Son insurrectionists led by Le Loi swept the foreign invaders out of the country of Dai Viet (Great Viet), ending the Ming’s 20-year domination over the Viet people. Le Loi became a national hero, proclaiming himself kings, called Le Thai To and establishing his capital in Thang Long. In a beautiful afternoon, the Emperor Lê Lợi handed a magic sword called Heaven's Will which brought him victory in his revolt against the Chinese Ming Dynasty back to the Golden Turtle God (Kim Qui God) in the Lake and hence gave it its present name (the Lake was formerly known as Luc Thuy Lake (meaning "Green Water" Lake). The Turtle Tower (Thap Rùa) standing on a small island near the centre of Lake is linked to the legend.

Near the northern shore of the donkey lies Jade Island on which the Temple of the Jade Mountain (Ngoc Son Temple) stands. The temple was erected in the 18th century. It honors the 13-century military leader Tran Hung Dao who distinguished himself in the fight against the Yuan Dynasty, Van Xuong, a scholar, and Nguyen Van Sieu, a Confucian master and famous writer in charge of repairs made to the temple in 1864. Jade Island is connected to the shore by the wooden red-painted Thê Húc Bridge (“Thê Húc” means Morning Sunlight Bridge).

The Sword Lake is not only a historical site but also a beauty-spot of the capital. When visiting Hanoi, Ludemis, a Greek poet, exclaimed that the Sword Lake – An emerald jewel set in the heart of the city, With the Red River as a silk ribbon around.

The Sword Lake legend can sometimes be rehearsed as the great turtle often arises out of the dark blue water of the lake. In 2011, the turtle (believed to have more than 1) was injured and tried to survive the dirty water with less and less food (due to the widespread of red ear imported tortoises in the Lake). Under the pressure of the public and historians, the authorities spent millions of dollars to clean up the water and cured the Turtle. He was captured for medical treatment before being released back to the Lake.

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