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Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature Hanoi: Visit the FIRST national university of Vietnam

14/08/2023 454 views

The Temple of Literature, with its significant cultural and historical values, is a perfect site for those who are interested in Vietnamese history and fond of peaceful ambiance.

Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature Hanoi is a well-known cultural tourist attraction (Source: Collected)

The Temple of Literature is a special national relic in Hanoi, offering a glimpse into Vietnamese history and culture from the 10th century. As the first university in Vietnam, it is where many students come to wish for good exam results and also an attractive destination for tourists during their Hanoi travel journey.

1. Where is the Temple of Literature? How to get there?

  • Location: No. 58, Quoc Tu Giam Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Temple of Literature entry fee:
    • VND 30,000 for adults
    • VND 15,000 for students (student ID required)
    • VND 15,000 for people with disabilities, or the elderly (over 60) 
    • Free for children under 15
Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature Hanoi is a prestigious historical and cultural site (Source: Collected)

The Temple of Literature is located on the tranquil Quoc Tu Giam Street, about 2-3 kilometers west of Hoan Kiem Lake. This prime location makes it a convenient place in your tour to discover Hanoi.

There are several ways for you to get to the Temple. From Hoan Kiem Lake, you can get here in just 10 minutes by taking a taxi. Meanwhile, if you drive your own car or motorbike, you should use Google Maps or ask the locals the way. 

Alternatively, you can take a bus to get to the Temple of Literature. Some bus routes that have stops near this area are no. 02, 23, 38, 25, and 41.

2. The history and significance of the Temple of Literature Hanoi

Temple of Literature

The relic complex of Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam consist of two main areas: The Temple of Literature and The Imperial Academy (Source: Collected)

The Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) was built in 1070 under the reign of Emperor Ly Thanh Tong as a place to worship the Chinese philosopher Confucius. Meanwhile, the Imperial Academy (Quoc Tu Giam) was founded in 1076 by Emperor Ly Nhan Tong as a place to educate the children of the emperor and noble families. It was considered the oldest university in Vietnam and the largest educational institute during the Ly, Tran, and Le dynasties.

Over the long history of Vietnam, the Temple of Literature has played a significant role in Vietnamese education and culture. Initially, its educational goal was to teach talented individuals from royal and elite families. For about 700 years, the Temple of Literature in Vietnam has educated hundreds of well-known scholars and mandarins.

Temple of Literature

The Temple of Literature is often visited by students and tourists nowadays (Source: Collected)

Today, the Temple is a place to organize poetry festivals, commend excellent students, and for students to pray for good results on their upcoming exams.

3. The architectural highlights of the Temple of Literature

The Temple, surrounded by an ancient red brick wall, covers an area of over 54,000 square meters. It consists of five courtyards, namely the Great Middle Gate (first), the Pavilion of Constellation (second), the Well of Heavenly Clarity (third), the Gate to Great Success (fourth), and the Grounds of Imperial Academy (fifth).

3.1. The first courtyard (the Great Middle Gate)

Visiting the Temple of Literature, the first sight you will see is the Great Middle Gate. It has the typical design of a traditional Vietnamese communal house, consisting of 3 compartments. On top of the Gate, there is a fish figure, which is said to represent a student. The fish, or the student, has to study hard to be able to leap over the sea waves and become a powerful dragon.

Temple of Literature

The first courtyard creates a sense of elegance and tranquility (Source: Collected)

3.2. The second courtyard (the Pavilion of Constellation)

The Pavilion of Constellation is not an unfamiliar sight. It is featured on the back of the 100,000 Vietnam dong banknote. The Pavilion, whose name means the brightest star in the sky, represents the wish for prosperity and developed education.

Temple of Literature

The simple and elegant Pavilion of Constellation under the shades of the ancient trees (Source: Collected)

3.3. The third courtyard (the Well of Heavenly Clarity)

The Well of Heavenly Clarity is actually a very large pond, whose square shape represents the earth, while the circle at the top of the Pavilion of Constellation represents the sky. Together, they symbolize the harmony between sky and earth. 

Over the side of the courtyard is a house full of stelae on stone turtles. Due to the devastation of wars, only 82 stone turtles and stelae remain today. The etchings on the stelae are praise of Confucianism and the Emperor, along with information about the examinations and scholars in the past. They are a valuable resource for the study of history, culture, education, society, and sculpture in Vietnam. These stelae were listed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in 2011.

Temple of Literature

The stone turtles carrying large stelae in the Temple of Literature Hanoi (Source: Collected)

3.4. The fourth courtyard (the Gate to Great Success)

The fourth courtyard – the Gate to Great Success – is in the center of the temple complex. In the middle of the courtyard, there is an altar to worship Chu Van An (the first rector of the Imperial Academy) and the seventy-two most honored disciples of Confucius.

Moreover, there is a small exhibition that displays inkwells, pens, and books belonging to the students that studied here. There is also a nearly 300-year-old ancient banyan tree – a symbol of longevity and vitality. The tree has witnessed many historical events of the Temple of Literature over the centuries.

Temple of Literature

The altar in the fourth courtyard of the Temple of Literature (Source: Collected)

3.5. The fifth courtyard (the Grounds of Imperial Academy)

In 2000, the fifth courtyard was reconstructed on the grounds of the original Imperial Academy, retaining the traditional architecture. It is made of 2 floors. The first floor has a statue of Chu Van An, who devoted all his life to education. The second floor is used to worship the three kings who contributed the most to the foundation of the Temple: Ly Thanh Tong, Ly Nhan Tong, and Le Thanh Tong. 

Here, there is also a giant drum and bronze bell, which echo the proud tradition of Vietnam and attract many international leaders to visit when they come to Hanoi.

Temple of Literature

The biggest drum in Vietnam in the Temple of Literature (Source: Collected)

4. Tips for your trip to the Temple of Literature in Vietnam

To make your trip to the Temple convenient and memorable, note the following: 

  • Avoid making loud noise
  • Photography is allowed, but turn on the flashlight
  • Dress modestly, avoid revealing clothes
  • Do not litter
  • Do not lie on, sit on, or touch the objects
  • Do not smoke inside the temple grounds
Temple of Literature

Follow the Temple of Literature guide to have the best experience here (Source: Collected)

In addition to the Temple of Literature, there are many other renowned tourist attractions in Hanoi that you should see, such as Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi Old Quarter, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, etc. Notably, VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium are two prominent destinations to enjoy your trip to Vietnam’s capital to the fullest.

Vinpearl Aquarium is one of the first and largest aquariums in Hanoi, with more than 30,000 marine creatures from all over the world. Here, you and your family can embark on a journey to discover the ocean world at the Freshwater Fish Area, Saltwater Fish Area, and even the Reptile Area, where there are many unique and rare amphibians that can only usually be seen in books.

Meanwhile, VinKE is a “play and learn” environment for children to explore their dream careers. It is also a paradise full of various fun games for the whole family. VinKE offers children opportunities to try real-life jobs and gain more confidence. Parents can have fun together with their children with many awesome activities in this large indoor playground.

Temple of Literature

Vinpearl Aquarium Times City allows you to interact with sea creatures through a glass pane and enjoy many entertaining shows

Temple of Literature

Lots of fun awaits your families at VinKE Times City

>>>  Book tickets of VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium to have lots of fun with your friends and family!

The Temple of Literature has been recognized as a cultural symbol of Hanoi in particular and Vietnam in general. Here, you can see all the highlights of Vietnamese culture, from study traditions, and architectural features, to worship customs and beliefs. Therefore, do not forget to include this place in your travel bucket list if you want to have a deeper look into Vietnam.

>>> Book tickets of VinKE & Vinpearl Aquarium to discover Hanoi in a different and fantastic way!

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