It's early in the morning that you can see the best of Hoan Kiem Lake, when walkers, joggers and tai chi fans take possession of this highly touristic spot during the day to become a family walk in the evening. popular. The lake itself is small - you can do it in less than 30 minutes - and not especially spectacular, but it is for the people of Hanoi the soul of their city. It is very lively all day long. It is sometimes found under the name of Lake Guom or even Lake of the Restored Sword.
The legend that gave the name to Hoan Kiem Lake tells that the great hero of Vietnam, King Le Loi, who led an uprising against the Chinese in the 15th century, seized a shining sword from this lake and served to gain the independence of the country. Ten years later, he returned as a new King Ly Thai To to thank the spirit of the lake. As he prepared for the ritual of sacrifice, a thunderclap sounded suddenly and the sword flew miraculously to the mouth of a golden turtle sent by the gods to regain their weapon.
The Lake of the Restored Sword is today the starting point for many of the city's tour, not only because it is rich in anecdotes and monuments, but also because the major axes allow visitors to go to several major tourist attractions such as the Old Quarter, Dong Xuan Market, Hanoi Opera House, or a little further, the Long Bien Bridge, the Temple of Literature and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
Ngoc Son Temple was built in the 19th century on Jade Island in the center of Hoan Kiem Lake. It is a shrine built in honor of Confucian and Taoist geniuses like Van Xuong, the god of literature; and the national hero Tran Hung Dao, who repulsed the Mongols in 1288. Unusual curiosity: there is a turtle said to be mummified inside the temple. Next to the Ngoc Son temple is the Tran Ba pavilion and the Dac Nguyet pavilion. This temple is reached by the bridge The Huc (or bridge where the rising sun rests) made of red lacquered wood. Not far from this bridge is a brush-shaped obelisk called the brush tower (in Vietnamese Thap But) built on the Ngoc Boi (formerly Doc Ton) platform by Confucianist Nguyen Van Sieu whose inscriptions signify "Write to the blue sky".
Next to Jade Island is Turtle Island, south of Hoan Kiem Lake. The white square stupa is called "Thap Rua" or Turtle Tower, in tribute to the legend but also to one of the four sacred animals of the Vietnamese (dragon, unicorn, turtle and phoenix). It is illuminated at night, and with reflections that sparkle in the lake, it gives a special charm to the lake. However, it is not accessible to the public.
Every evening from Friday to Sunday, the lake is closed to vehicles and can be wandered through the outlying streets: you can see the statue of King Ly Thai To in the park that bears his name built to commemorate the millennium of the city in 2010; the main post office of Hanoi; the water puppet theater where a show depicting the daily life of the Vietnamese is performed, played by puppets on a stage filled with water, under the rhythm of traditional music and singing; a small water fountain where young people come to take pictures of the illuminated and lively square; and the many shops that abound in the Old Quarter. It is very often of this mythical lake that begins your trip in Vietnam.
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