Hanoi Temple of Literature - witness of Hanoi thousand years of civilization

  • 08/12/2019

If you have the opportunity to travel to Hanoi, you should take some time to visit the Temple of Literature - Quoc Tu Giam, the first university of Vietnam, where there are many interesting things for you to learn and explore, which Whatsup Vietnam is eager to introduce to you below.

The Temple of Literature was built in October 1070, during the reign of King Ly Thanh Tong. In 1076, King Ly Nhan Tong ordered to establish Quoc Tu Giam, which is adjacent to the Temple of Literature. This is the first university in Vietnam. Initially, the school was only for children of the Royal Family and the children of the big figures in the reign, then later expanded and accepted excellent civilians. Temple of Literature - Quoc Tu Giam is composed of two monuments:

-  The Temple of Literature worships Confucius, Confucian sages and Quoc Tu Giam Chu Van An - the teacher who represented the respectful virtue of Vietnamese education;

-  Quoc Tu Giam - The first university of Vietnam.

The Temple of Literature - Quoc Tu Giam used to be the place to keep stone steles which were carved the names of those who passed doctoral degrees and was also a place to recruit gifted students. This is now a place to visit domestic and foreign tourists, a place to reward students with high scores, excellent students and also where scholars come "for luck" before each exam.

Entrance fees and opening hours of Temple of Literature - Quoc Tu Giam

-  Adult ticket price: VND 30,000

-  Opening hours: From April 15 to Oct 15 : 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM and in other months: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

How to go to Temple of Literature - Quoc Tu Giam

From the center of Hanoi to visit the Temple of Literature - Quoc Tu Giam , you can go by private or public transport (bus, taxi).  If traveling by personal vehicle, you can start from Ho Guom, going along Le Thai To Street, turning right to Trang Thi Street, going to Cua Nam and Nguyen Khuyen Streets, and finally taking a turnleft onto Van Mieu Street. You should also keep in mind to pay attention to a one-way street around Hanoi Temple of Literature - Quoc Tu Giam.

If traveling by bus , you catch the following bus routes which have stops nearby:  Bus routes 02, 23, 38, 25, 41.

Sight seeing spots

The architectural complex of Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam covers an area of 54331m² including: Van Lake, Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam area and Giam garden.

Ho Van (Minh Duong Lake or Giam Lake) is located opposite the main gate to the Temple of Literature separated by Quoc Tu Giam Street. This is a crystal clear lake, surrounded by shady trees, in the middle of the lake is Kim Chau mound. On the old mound, there is Phan Thuy Duong (Van Ho Dinh) where the commentary sessions of the Confucian scholars were held. On the mound, there is still a stone stele built in the 18th Tu Duc year (1865) detailing the repair of Van Lake and the construction of Phan Thuy Duong street.

Along the West of the Temple of Literature - Quoc Tu Giam is Giam's garden. There are octagonal houses, bonsai, bonsai, rockery, etc. The Giam's gardens are now embellished, remodeled as a place to hang out, relax for visitors and organize traditional cultural activities. The temple of Literature - Quoc Tu Giam is divided into 5 distinct areas, each of which is separated by walls and gates.

Van Mieu Mon (Van Mieu gate) - Gate leading into the first area:

Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam

In front of the Temple of Literature is four pillars (representing the four directions of East - West - South - North) and two steles of descending horse on both sides are the horizontal boundary markers in front of the gate. Formerly, whether the servants or the generals, whether travelling in the hammock or the horse carriage, people passing by the Temple of Literature would have to walk from the stone stele on one side to the stone stele on the other side before being allowed to get on the horse. The four pillars were built from bricks, the two middle pillars were built higher whose tops are the structure of two Nghe (a Vietnamese spiritual animal). The spiritual notion is that Nghe is capable of recognizing evil or good people.

The Temple of Literature is a two-story Tam Quan gate structure (the gate has three doors, the middle door is big and has 2 floors), the upper floor has three letters ?? ? (Temple of Literature Gate). Outside, there are stone dragons stylized in the Le Dynasty, inside are stone dragons from the Nguyen Dynasty.

1. The first area: Dai Trung Mon

Dai Trung Mon

From the main gate of the Temple of Literature into the first space called the Initiation Zone, go straight to the second gate which is the Dai Trung Mon. On par with Dai Trung Mon has two small doors on both sides, on the left is Thanh Duc door (becomes a virtuous person), on the right has Dat Tai door (becomes a talented person). 

2. The second area: Khue Van Cac

Khue Van Cac          Khue Van Cac

Through Dai Trung Mon is a straight road to Khue Van Cac - a unique architectural work built in 1805 (Nguyen Dynasty), including two floors of eight roofs. Downstairs are four brick pillars with cultural patterns carved, the upper floor is made from wood. The four sides of the wall are covered with wooden planks, each side is made of a round door with wooden bars directing to four directions with the meaning that the round door represents Sao Khue and the holding wooden bars represent the star's rays. 

Khue Van Cac used to be the gathering place for the reviews of excellent writings of the scholars who have won the examination. Today, it is a symbol of Hanoi capital. On both sides of Khue Van Cac are the two small gates of Bi Van and Suc Van. These two gates, along with Khue Van gate, open the third area, Thien Quang well area and two stele gardens of Doctors.

3. Third area: Thien Quang well and Doctors' steles garden

Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam

Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam Doctors' steles garden

Thien Quang well (illuminating the sunlight) is also known as Van Tri (Van Pond ). The doctoral steles garden with 82 steles of Vietnam was erected from 1484 to 1780, and engraved epitaphs with the name of Vietnamese Confucian Doctor. The stele is erected on the left and right sides of Thien Quang well, the stele faces back to the well. In the middle of each Doctoral steles garden is a square pavilion, whose the door looks straight into the well. The steles are decorated with the sun, clouds, flowers, flame or moon, showing the outlook on life of the contemporaries.

In the Nguyen Dynasty, the capital was moved to Phu Xuan - Thua Thien Hue province, Thang Long Temple is no longer a National Temple, so the doctoral steles are no longer erected here. The Nguyen Dynasty began to build tele at Van Thanh Mieu Hue from the examination in 1822.

4. The fourth area: Dai Thanh Mon - Shrining area.

Dai Thanh Mon  Dai Thanh Mon - Van Mieu

-  Dai Thanh Gate  (Dai Thanh Mon - "the door of great success"), a starting point for the area of the main architecture.

Like Dai Trung gate, Dai Thanh gate is a 3-storey structure with two rows of front porch and a middle column. In the middle, the roof has a 3-letter ?? ? (Dai Thanh Mon) carved on it. The two sides are engraved the words that informed the time of construction and restoration. Dai Thanh gate opens the main area of the relic, the place to worship, Confucius, Chu Cong, Tu Phoi, etc. and also the teaching place of the ancient episcopal school.

The two small doors on both sides of Dai Thanh Mon are Kim Thanh Mon (right) and Ngoc Chan Mon (left). However, these two doors do not open directly to the main area, but to go through the paved road behind the two rows of Ta Vu and Huu Vu, continuing leading to the fifth area, Khai Thanh, the last area of the monument.

-  Shrining area: Coming across Dai Thanh gate, there is a large yard tiled by Bat Trang bricks: Dai Bai yard. The two sides are two rows of houses, Ta Vu and Huu Vu, formerly worshiped the 72 excellent students of Confucius and Quoc Tu Giam Chu Van An. Dai Bai Duong is a place of ritual practices, with large boards having distiches praising Confucianism and Confucius. The Great Palace consists of nine compartments, which is the place to worship Confucius, Tu Phoi and steles of 10 sages.

Dai Bai Duong building is widely connected to the gables of Ta Vu and Huu Vu, forming a U-shaped architectural cluster. After Dai Bai Duong, in parallel, the Thuong Dien was more discreet and darker than Dai Bai, giving the place a deep and solemn atmosphere. This is the place to worship the Confucian leaders. 

 5. Fifth Area: Khai Thanh Temple

Khai Thanh Temple - Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam Khai Thanh Temple 

Khai Thanh Temple was originally Quoc Tu Giam, the first national university of Vietnam, including lecture halls, dormitories for students, libraries, and gas storage. In early nineteenth century, the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty was in Thua Thien Hue province and they built Temple of Literature Hue, where it became the School of Hoai Duc and Khai Thanh Temple afterwards to worship Confucius parents. In 1946, the area was completely destroyed by the war. Khai Thanh Temple today is completely newly built in 2000 to honor the national cultural tradition. There are the steles of the three kings Ly Thanh Tong, Ly Nhan Tong, Le Thanh Tong and Quoc Tu Giam Chu Van An.

Some notes when visiting the Temple of Literature - Quoc Tu Giam

-  Respect the relics, obey the regulations of the monuments management: Do not harm relics and landscape of relics; Do not rub the turtle's head, write, draw, stand, sit on the stele.
-  Put on clean and tidy clothes (Do not wear skirts or shorts that are too short); Non-smoking, not wearing hats in the Shrining area or in the gallery
-  Hygiene and protection of environmental landscapes: Do not climb walls, climb trees, break branches, pick flowers, step on lawns, fish, swim, throw rubbish indiscriminately.
-  Do not bring weapons, explosives, flammable substances into the relics.
-  Keep your vehicle in the right place, manage your belongings to avoid any loss.
-  Filming activities at the monument can only be done with the consent of the site's leader.

By Quynh Nhi



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