Hoan Kiem lake (Lake of the Restored Sword) is located in central Hanoi. A can’t-miss spot for foreigners while staying in Hanoi Old Quarter. Weekends filled with locals enjoying the park, street performers, a lot of interesting activities. At night, it looks spectacular as the red bridge reflects in the water and not far away, there is the turtle tower with its reflection shimmering in the lake. Among more than 20 lakes in Hanoi, Hoan Kiem lake is always particular because of its history, its tale. This sword lake definitely brings you Hanoi perspectives as soon as arriving. Now, dating back 15th century, let’s find out the tale of this lake
Long time ago, Minh invaders dominated Vietnam, treating the people with great cruelty. In Lam Son, a rebel army arose and tried to defeat the invaders, but lacked the strength to expel them. Seeing the people’s suffering, Duc Long Quan decided to send down a magic sword to help them defeat the enemy.
At that time, in Thanh Hoa province, there lived a fisherman named Le Than. One night, Le Than felt something heavy in his net. He thought he had caught a large fish, but found only an iron bar. Disappointed, he threw the bar away and fished elsewhere. When the iron bar resurfaced, he tossed it back. The third time this happened, Le Than took a closer look at the bar. Realizing it was the blade of a sword, he decided it was a sign that he should join the resistance.
One day, General Le Loi passed near Le Than’s house. In the dark house, the iron sword blade shone very brightly. Le Loi took a closer look and saw the words “Thuan Thien” carved into the metal. But at this time, nobody realized the old sword’s value.
Overcome by their stronger enemy, Le Loi and his troops were forced to retreat. When walking through the forest, Le Loi suddenly saw a light at the top of a banyan tree. He climbed the tree and found the hilt of a sword. Recalling the sword blade in Le Than’s house, Le Loi took the sword hilt with him.
Three days later, when he was reunited with Le Than, Le Loi put the sword blade near the hilt. They fit and fused perfectly. All of the resistance fighters realized this was an important omen. Holding the sword, Le Than told his commander: “God has granted you this sword to perform a great act. We will offer our blood and bones to serve you and this divine sword to reclaim our country!”
From that day forth, the resistance forces were invincible. The fame of the Lam Son army spread, and the Minh were forced to retreat. Little by little, Le Loi’s troops managed to push the invaders from their country.
When peace was regained, Le Loi took a boat tour around Ta Vong Lake near the imperial city. On that occasion, Long Quan sent a golden turtle to reclaim the magic sword. When Le Lois boat was in the middle of the lake, a huge golden turtle rose out of the water. King Le Loi ordered the oarsmen to slow down. He felt the sword at his hip move.
The golden turtle rose higher out of the water and said: “Your majesty, please return the sword to Long Quan!”
King Le Loi withdrew the sword from its scabbard. Immediately, it flew through the air towards the golden turtle, which grasped the shining sword in its mouth and disappeared beneath the water.
Later, King Le Loi explained to his subjects: “Duc Long Quan lent us a divine sword to banish the Minh invaders. Now that our country is at peace, he sent a turtle to reclaim it!” From that day onwards, Ta Vong Lake was known as “Hoan Kiem Lake”, or “Returned Sword Lake”.