Temple of Literature

The very first stop-over of any foreign tourist in Hanoi is always Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam (translated as Temple of Literature), which reveals the Hanoians’ spirit of study in the past!

Situatedat the south of Thang Long citadel, is on top of the historical andbeautiful sightseeings of the beautiful capital of Vietnam. Pleasefollow us in a brief tour of exploring his beauty and deep values;

Historical meaning

Tourists,particularly the foreign ones, now flock to the site for taking a lookinto its profound traditional meanings of both a Confucion temple andthe first university of Vietnam. Văn Miếu or Temple of Literature,known as "pagode des Corbeaux" during the period of Frenchcolonisation, was founded as a Confucian temple in 1070.

Only parts of the Văn Miếu complexdate back to the earliest period, although much of the architecturedates to the Ly (1010 – 1225) and Tran (1225 – 1400) Dynasties. In1076, Vietnam's first university, the Quốc Tử Giám (or NationalUniversity), was established within this temple to educate Vietnam'smandarin class. The university functioned for more than 700 years, from1076 to 1779, during which, 2,313 doctors graduated. Hence, the complexhas been attached to the name of Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam up to now.

A beauty-spot of architectural values

Thisancient Confucian sanctuary is now considered one of Hanoi's finesthistorical and cultural sites. “The ever special architetural style ofVan Mieu dates back to the 11th century, evoking aninspiration of classical creativeness of many of us”, one of mytourists remarked. Just take a look into the art of architecture, youwill share the feeling! The temple is based on Confucius' birthplace atQufu in the Chinese province of Shandong. It consists of fivecourtyards lined out in order, entrance to the first, via theimpressive twin-tiered Van Mieu gate leads to three pathways that runthrough the length of the complex. The centre path was reserved for theKing only, the one to its left for administrative Mandarins and the oneto its right for military Mandarins.

Thefirst two courtyards are peaceful havens of ancient trees andwell-trimmed lawns where the scholars could relax away from the bustleof the city outside the thick stone walls. Entrance to the thirdcourtyard is through the dominating Khue Van Cac (constellation ofliterature), a large pavilion built in 1802. Central to the thiscourtyard is the Thien Quang Tinh ("Well Of Heavenly Clarity"), eitherside of which stand two great halls which house the true treasures ofthe temple. These are 82 stone steles. Another 34 are believed to havebeen lost over the years. They sit upon stone tortoises and areinscribed with the names and birth places of 1306 men who were awardeddoctorates from the triennial examinations held here at the Quoc TuGiam ("National University") between 1484 and 1780, when the capitalwas moved to Hue.
The fourth courtyard is bordered on either sideby great pavilions which once contained altersl of 72 of Confuciusgreatest students but which now contain offices, a gift shop and asmall museum which contains ink wells, pens, books and personalartifacts belonging to some of the students that have studied herethrough the years. At the far end of the courtyard is the altar withstatues of Confucius and his four closest disciples. The fifthcourtyard contained the Quoc Tu Giam, Vietnam's first universityfounded in 1076 King Ly Can Duc, but this was destroyed by Frenchbombing in 1947.

Though having gone through lots ofrestoration work, the temple still retains its very first originalshape, to be one of the visit-worthy sightseeings of Hanoi, captivatingto a huge number of tourists elsewhere.

Aspace of peace, green trees and solemnity covers the whole temple ofhistorical and traditional love for study, making tourists feel likethey were lost in a land of Confucion and traditional values. If youare in Hanoi, you should really come and explore it yourself!