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Turtle Tower


Hoàn Kiếm lake, Hà Nội, Việt Nam

Turtle Tower also called Tortoise Tower (Vietnamese name: Thap Rua) is a small tower in the middle of Hoan Kiem lake, in the heart of Hanoi. In the past, The Thap Rua was used to be the “Statue of Liberty” in Vietnam, which was replaced by the French.

Turtle Tower has an unique combination of local Vietnamese and French colonial architecture. The three-storied tower is constructed on a large heap of land measuring 350 square meters. It gradually narrows to the top since its first two stories are larger than the third. The ground floor, as well as the first floors, has three doors on the eastern and western sides while two doors are found on the southern and northern sides. The first and the top floor are fenced with horizontal and vertical rails.


Turtle Tower was built in 1886 on the same site where Ta Vong Temple had been built during the 17th or 18th century. Somewhere between the Restored Le Dynasty and the Nguyen Dynasty that temple disappeared. The tower that stands there now was erected on the same site to commemorate a warrior, a local folk hero, Le Loi and the impact he had on Vietnam.

Turtle Tower in the Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

According to the legend, a Dragon King helped Le Loi achieve his victory by secretly gifting a mystical sword, which gave strength and power to rally his troops against the Ming army.

The blade of the sword was found by a fisherman in his net while its handle was discovered in a banyan tree by Le Loi himself.

turtle tower

Shortly after the battle, the Vietnamese hero crossed through the lake by a boat, where the Dragon King reclaimed the sword in the form of a turtle. Therefore, Le Loi named the lake Hoan Kiem, which is Lake of The Returned Sword in English.


Nowadays, the Lake of The Returned Sword has a much more peaceful life. Nevertheless, rarely do people go out to the little island anymore, giving the aquatic residents of the island peace and freedom to roam around as they will. And the Turtle tower also become a symbol of Hanoi capital.


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