West Lake (Hanoi)
West Lake at dusk
|Lake type||Freshwater lake|
|Shore length1||17 km (11 mi)|
|1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.|
West Lake (Vietnamese: Hồ Tây) is the biggest freshwater lake of northwest center of Hanoi, Vietnam. With a shore length of 17 km (about 10.6 miles) and 500 hectare (about 5 km2) in area, 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, and that's why the lake was once called "Fox Corpse Swamp" (Đầm Xác Cáo). Another folk story claimed that original name of the lake was "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) due to its misty condition. 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 by many significant places in the history of Hanoi and Vietnam. Trấn Quốc Pagoda, the oldest pagoda in Vietnam, was built in the 6th century by Lý Nam Đế and is located 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, is also located close to the lake.
As Hanoi's largest lake, located right in the center of Hanoi, West Lake is abundant with gardens, hotels, restaurants and other entertainment centers. For this reason, real estate prices near West Lake are staggering, and the surrounding quarters are often full of many imposingly large edifices occupied by wealthy Vietnamese people and expatriates.
- Charles Agar, tr. 133