Temple of the Literature

Temple of the Literature (Vietnamese: Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam) is the first stop destination of any foreign tourists in Hanoi. It shows the Hanoians’ spirit of study for long time ago!


It is suited in the Dong Da district, Hanoi. Van Mieu, or the Temple of Literature, is the oldest school in Vietnam. Confucian ways of though and behavior are showed in the Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam’s instruction, and it is a historical and cultural relic.

Historical meaning

Visiting here tourists have a chance to see the first university of Vietnam and the Confucian temple. Văn Miếu or Temple of Literature, known as “pagode des Corbeaux” during the period of French colonization, was founded as a Confucian temple in 1070.

In the earliest periods, some parts of the Văn Miếu complex were established, much of the architecture dates to the Ly (1010 – 1225) and Tran (1225 – 1400) Dynasties. The first university of Vietnam, the Quốc Tử Giám (or National University), was built in 1076. Vietnam’s mandarins were educated in this temple. Its age is more than 700 years, from 1076 to 1779.  2,313 doctors were graduated from there. Thus, the name of Vam Mieu Quoc Tu Giam has been attached to the complex up to now.

A beauty-spot of architectural values

Presently, it is regarded as one of Hanoi’s finest historical and cultural sites. The temple is based on Confucius’ birthplace at Qufu in the Chinese province of Shandong. It has five courtyards in order, firstly entrance, after passing the impressive twin-tiered Van Mieu gate you will come to three pathways that run along the length of the complex.

The centre path was given for the King only, the administrative Mandarins was reserved the one of its left and the one to its right for military Mandarins.

The first two courtyards planted ancient trees creating an ideal space for the scholars to relax and stay away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. In 1802, the dominating Khue Van Cac (constellation of literature) was built. Thien Quang Tinh( Well of Heavenly Clarity) is in the central of this courtyard. Besides, there are two great halls which house the true treasures of the temple. Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam’s outstanding feature is the existence of 82 stone steles. It was thought that another 34 were lost over the years. Name and birth place of 1306 men who were awarded doctorates from the triennial examinations held here at the Quoc Tu Giam (“National University”) between 1484 and 1780 were inscribed on the stone tortoises.

Next, on the other side, the fourth courtyard is bordered by great pavilions which had 72 Confucius greatest students’ alters. Now there are offices, a gift shop and a small museum. Tourists can buy many things of the students who studied here in the past, such as the ink wells, pens, books and personal artifacts. Tourists can see the statues of Confucius and his four closet disciples in the altar at the far end of the courtyard. Quoc Tu Giam is located in the fifth courtyard. The first university of Vietnam established in 1076 by King Ly  Can Duc, unfortunately in 1947 due to French it was destroyed.

Past many years, the temple still maintains its first original shape. It is one of the worthy tourist sites in Hanoi. It attracts stream of tourists, annually.

Coming there, visitors feel as they lose their way in the land of Confusion and traditional values. No matter you are living in Hanoi or not, you should make a trip to discover this unique culture-preserving of Hanoi’s.

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