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Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

June 14th, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 
 

Hoan Kiem Lake ("Lake of the Returned Sword" or "Lake of the Restored Sword", also known as Sword Lake) is a lake in the historical center of Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. The lake is one of the major scenic spots in the city and serves as a focal point for its public life.

According to the legend, emperor Le Loi 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) in the lake and hence gave it its present name (the lake was formerly known as "Luc Thuy" meaning "Green Water"). The Tortoise Tower (Thap Rua) standing on a small island near the center of lake is linked to the legend.

Large soft-shell turtles, either of the species Rafetus swinhoei or a separate species named Rafetus leloii in honor of the emperor, have been sighted in the lake. The species is critically endangered and the number of individuals in the lake is unclear.

Near the northern shore of the lake lies Jade Island on which the Ngoc Son Temple (Jade Mountain 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 Huc Bridge (The Huc, meaning Morning Sunlight Bridge).

[Source: Wikipedia]

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