Nanjing's largest park, Xuanwu Hu is a lake ten kilometers long divided into five sections by narrow islands and causeways, Huanzhou Island, Yinshou Island, Liangzhou Island, Cuizhou Island and Linzhou Island. With 368-hectare water area plus five islands, the bridges above the lake and the pavilions, corridors, towers lotus flower spreading in it form a charming landscape.
In the long history of China, the lake had had been used by many dynasties as an ideal place to train their waterborne troops and the paradise for many emperors and officers in ancient times. But it once had been converted into farmland in Northern Song Dynasty. Xuanwu Lake didn’t appear until Ming Dynasty, when Emperor Zhuyuanzhang ordered the lake to be the moat around the city. Later the lake was restored and opened as a park in 1909 called Yuanwu Lake Park.
For the name “Xuanwu”, there is a legend. In the Southern Dynasty a black dragon was seen in the lake. Chinese Daoists believed that the black dragon was called Xuanwu. Hence the lake was called Xuwu Lake.