Temple of Literature

Hanoi Literature Temple

Temple of Literature – Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam is a landmark appears on the back of the VND 100,000 note. They believe this is the first university in Vietnam. Today Temple of Literature is one of the places not to be missed when coming to Hanoi.  Join us to discover the cultural and historical values at this famous and attractive destination.

  • Address: 58 Quoc Tu Giam street, Dong Da district, Hanoi city

See on Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/mGPxvEHs6AnVBFsNA

  • Opening time:
    – In summer (From April to October): 7:30~18:00
    – In winter (From November to March): 8:00~18:00
  • Entrance fee: VND.30000/person (free for children under 15 years old and severely handicapped people)
  • Transportation: the best way is to go directly by taxi. If you want to go by bus, there is a plenty of buses go though this place (Bus No.02, 23, 25, 38, 41).

The meaning of Temple of Literature

The Temple of Literature – Quoc Tu Giam is not only the first university of our country, but also a symbol of Vietnamese studious traditions. In addition, Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam is also the place where hold poetry festivals and reward the outstanding students. Besides, people often come here before every important exam for good luck or take their graduate photographs. On the lunar new year, there is a unique tradition that comes to receive calligraphy pictures (tranh thư pháp) from the Master. Because Vietnamese believe that it will help them and their family have a happy new year.

History of Temple of Literature

Van Mieu (The Temple of Literature) was constructed in 1070 during Ly Thanh Tong’s dynasty. Its original purpose was to honor Confucius. In 1076, the first university of Vietnam called Quoc Tu Giam (The Imperial Academy), was established within this temple by Emperor Ly Nhan Tong. That’s the reason why the complex has the name of Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam up to now. Initially, Quoc Tu Giam was the school for princes and children of royal families. And in the following year, they expanded this place to admit top students from around the country.

In the Late Le Dynasty (Thời Hậu Lê), King Le Thanh Tong began to build steles for doctoral candidates. Under the Nguyen Dynasty, Quoc Tu Giam was established in Hue. Thang Long Temple was renovated to be a Literature Temple of Bac Thanh Town, later changed to Hanoi Temple of Literature.

Moreover, under the World Memory Program on March 9, 2010 Unesco recognized Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam’s stele of doctors (Bia Tiến Sĩ) as a World Documentary Heritage. After the Nguyen Dynasty woodblocks, Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam’s stele of doctors is the second documentary heritage of Vietnam to be listed in the World Documentary Heritage list.

The unique architecture of Temple of Literature

The current complex of Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam is located on a land area of 54331 m2 and including many small architectural works. Surrounding the campus are mallet bricks. After experiencing many remodeling, this monument complex includes:
Ho Van, Van Mieu, Dai Trung Mon, Khue Van Cac, Thien Quang well, Stetes of doctors, Dai Thanh Mon and Thai Hoc house.

The teaching house in the east and the west has 2 rows of 14 spaces each. The dormitory for students in the east and the west are three blocks with 25 rooms each and 2 people each. All of the current Van Mieu architecture are those of the early Nguyen Dynasty.  It simulates the overall planning of the Temple of Confucius Temple in China. However, the scale here is simpler and follows the traditional ethnic art form.

In front of the Temple of Literature is Van Chuong Lake, the old name was Thai Ho. In the middle of the lake is Kim Chau mound, formerly there was a floor to admire the scenery. Furthermore, the main gate has four pillars. On the two sides are the “Ha Ma” stele, with high walls surrounding it. The Temple of Literature has the style of Tam Quan, on which there are three words “Temple of Literature” in ancient Chinese characters. Temple of Literature divided into 5 distinct areas. And each area has separated walls and gates connected to each other.

Visiting areas

The first zone

Starting with the main gate of the Temple of Literature going to the gate of Dai Trung Mon, the two sides have small gates of Thanh Duc Mon and Dat Tai Mon.

The second area

From Dai Trung Mon to Khue Van Cac. Khue Van Cac – a symbol of Hanoi city is an architectural work not only massive but also harmonious and beautiful. The architecture consists of 4 square pillars (85cm x 85cm) below to support the upper floor, with beautiful wooden structures. The upper floor has railings and 4 round doors. Double-layer tiled roofs form an 8-roof structure. The roof edge and the roof surface are flat.
The loft is an eight-floor square roof, on the four sides of the attic is the round window shape like the sun’s rays. On the left and right of Khue Van Cac are Bi Van Mon and Suc Van Mon leading to two Stele of Doctors houses.

The third area

Contains Thien Quang Tinh lake (meaning the well illuminates the sun), has a square shape. On both sides of the lake is Stele of Doctors area . Each stele is made of stone, engraved with the names of the candidates who passed the high exams in feudal times. They place each stele on the back of a stone turtle. There are still 82 steles from the examinations from 1442 to 1779.  Besides,  steles are the most precious relics of the monument.

The fourth zone

This area is the central area and the main architecture of the Temple of Literature. It consists of two large works arranged in parallel and successive. And the outer building is Bai Duong, the inner building is Thuong Cung. This is the area for worshiping Confucius and Tu Phoi (four excellent disciples of Confucius).

Fifth area

This is Thai Hoc house. In the Nguyen Dynasty, Quoc Tu Giam school in Hanoi was abolished. In addition, they changed the name of Thai Hoc house to Khai Thanh house to worship Confucius’ parents. However, this building was destroyed during the anti-French resistance war. In 1999, the leader of Hanoi City rebuilt the new Thai Hoc housing complex. This are is also the house of Tien Duong – Hau Duong, which is the place to worship the kings Ly Thanh Tong, Ly Nhan Tong and Le Thanh Tong. In addition, this is also the place to worship Chu Van An – who was appointed to govern Quoc Tu Giam.

Tortoise stone stele in temple of Literature
Tortoise stone stele in temple of Literature
Drum in Temple of Literature
Drum in Temple of Literature
Inside Temple of Literature
Inside Temple of Literature
Hanoi Literature Temple
Hanoi Literature Temple

Tortoise stone steleDrumInside Temple of LiteratureHanoi Literature Temple

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