West Lake (Hanoi)
||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Vietnamese Wikipedia. (June 2011)|
West Lake in dusk
|Shore length1||17 km|
|1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.|
West Lake (Vietnamese: Hồ Tây) is a freshwater lake in the center of Hanoi, Vietnam. With a shore length of 17 km (about 10.6 miles), this is the largest lake of the capital and a popular place for recreation with many surrounding gardens, hotels and villas. A small part of West Lake is divided by Thanh Nien road to form Trúc Bạch Lake. One district of Hanoi is named after the lake, Tây Hồ District.
West Lake was created from a curved part of Red River and appeared in several Vietnamese legends. One legend suggests that West Lake was shaped after the battle between Lạc Long Quân and a nine-tailed fox spirit, that's why the lake was once called "Fox Corpse Swamp" (Đầm Xác Cáo). Another folk story claimed that original name of the lake is "Golden Buffalo Lake" (Hồ Trâu Vàng, or Han Viet: Hồ Kim Ngưu) because it was formed from struggle of a buffalo after the disappearance of her calf. In the 11th century, the lake was named "Foggy Lake" (Han Viet: Hồ Dâm Đàm) from its misty condition and ultimately its name was changed to "West Lake" in 1573 to avoid the given name of king Lê Thế Tông which was Duy Đàm.
West Lake is bordered with many significant places in history of Hanoi and Vietnam. Trấn Quốc Pagoda, oldest pagoda in Vietnam, was built in the 6th century by Lý Nam Đế and now locates on a small island in the middle of the lake. Near Tran Quoc Pagoda is Quán Thánh Temple, one of the Four Sacred Temples of ancient Hanoi (Vietnamese: Tứ trấn Thăng Long). Chu Van An High School, one of the oldest high schools in Vietnam, also locates close to the lake.
As Hanoi's largest lake, located right in the center of Hanoi, West Lake is rammed with many gardens, hotels, restaurants and other entertainment centers. For this reason, the real estate price of areas near West Lake is staggering and the surrounding quarters are often full with imposingly large edifices occupied by rich Vietnamese people and ex-pats.
- Charles Agar, tr. 133