The Temple of Literature has a prime location, being the intersection of 4 central streets of Dong Da district. It is a place to worship Confucius, who is considered the eternal teacher of East Asian cultural countries such as China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, is one of the most famous tourist destinations of Hanoi and even Vietnam.
1. Location of Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature is located at 58 Van Mieu street, Dong Da District, Hanoi City. It is located right in the city center. It is only 2.3 km from the Sword Lake.
2. History of the Temple of Literature
Constructed in August 1070 under King Ly Thanh Tong, the Temple of Literature, in addition to the function of worshiping the saints of Confucianism, is also the first royal school – where the princes are taught. The first student of this royal school was Prince Ly Can Duc, King Ly Nhan Tong. In 1076, it was this first student who, after taking the throne, set up a teaching school next to Van Mieu. The school was only reserved for children of noble kings, so it was named Quoc Tu Giam.
In 1253 under King Tran Thai Tong, the school was expanded and accepted the children of commoners to study only with excellent learning. During the reign of King Tran Minh Tong (1300 – 1357), Chu Van An was invited to hold the position of Quoc Tu Giam Tu Nghiep equivalent to today’s principal. He is responsible for managing all activities of Quoc Tu Giam and directly teaching Prince Tran Vuong.
In 1484, King Le Thanh Tong organized an examination and erected steles of those who passed the doctoral exam. By the time of Nguyen, Quoc Tu Giam School was built in Hue, but the Temple of Literature has been preserved until today.
3. The Architecture of Temple of Literature
The complex of the Temple of Literature relic is a large rectangular land with an area of 54,331m2 bearing bold architecture built in the early Nguyen Dynasty (1802 – 1945). The Temple of Literature campus is surrounded by 4 solid brick walls.
The Temple of Literature is designed according to a Confucian layout facing each class, each zone along the North-South axis. Before entering each zone, you must step through a gate system including the main door and two side doors. All the entrance gates are designed with rooftops with dragons looking at the moon in ancient oriental architectural style.
4. How to go to the Temple of Literature
To reach the Temple of Literature, visitors can choose one of the following ways:
Traveling by bus: In this way, visitors can catch buses 32, 41, 23, 38, 02 and get off at the stop closest to the Temple of literature and then walk there.
Selecting 2-story bus service: This is a capital tour service that has just appeared in recent years. This service not only helps you to visit the Temple of Literature but also takes you to visit all other famous places of Hanoi very professionally and conveniently.
Using of inner-city tours by bicycle: This is a service of travel agencies to bring a particularly enjoyable experience to visitors when visiting Hanoi by bicycle.
Taxi, motorbike taxi: In Hanoi, motorbike taxis and taxis are available so it is easy for visitors to call them to Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam to explore.
Traveling by private vehicle: If traveling by private vehicle, visitors can look up the map or ask residents to choose the most suitable travel route to avoid entering one-way roads.
5. Opening hours, tickets to Van Mieu
The Temple of Literature is open all days of the week including weekends or holidays. Opening hours are 7:30 am in winter, 8 am in other seasons and closing time is 6 pm.
The ticket price to visit Van Mieu is 30 thousand VND / person/visit. If you fall into one of the following categories, you will receive a 50% free or 50% discount:
– Free tickets for children under 15 years old and people with particularly severe disabilities.
– 50% discount on fares for people in remote areas, ethnic minorities, the elderly over 60 years old, people with meritorious services to the country.
6. Places in the temple
To visit the Temple of Literature the most fully, visitors should visit the following places in sequence:
6.1. Van Lake
Located right in front of the gate of the Temple of Literature, Van Lake is the first place to visit when visiting the temple. According to historical records, Van Lake is a large lake, up to ten thousand nine hundred meters wide, located in the overall temple relic. In the heart of Van Lake is Kim Chau mound. Phan Thuy Duong was built on the Kim Chau mound. Phan Thuy Duong is the place where the literary reviews of the ancient capital scholars take place.
6.2. The Gate of Temple of Literature
The Gate of the Temple of Literature is the outer three-door gate of the relic, including the main door with 3 floors. The top floor has three characters the Gate of Temple of Literature in ancient Chinese character. The two sides of the main gate are two large square pillars, on which there are a couple of parallel sentences in ancient Chinese. The gate looks imposing majesty.
6.3. Great Middle Gate
The Great Middle Gate is the second gate of the Temple of Literature. The gate consists of 3 compartments built on a high brick base and roofed with tiles in the style of ancient communal houses. In front of and behind the Great Middle Gate is a large space full of trees, lakes, parallel long grasses creating a sense of solitude, elegance of the “cultural capital” place.
6.4. Khue Van Cac
Khue Van Cac is a square floor with eight roofs nearly 9 meters high including 4 lower roofs and 4 rooftops. This is the work built by the Doge Nguyen Van Thanh in 1805 under the Nguyen Dynasty. Khue Van Cac is built on square ground, each side with a width of 6.8 meters.
The architecture of Khue Van Cac is very unique in the form of an old floor with the lower part of 4 square pillars 1 meter long, which is the pedestal for the upper floor. These pillars are engraved, sculpted and patterns are very sharp and sophisticated. The upper floor of Khue Van Cac is a red and yellow wooden architecture with a red tile roof overlapping 2 layers above to create a very special 8-roof building. The four sides of the Khue Van Cac wall are circular windows like the sun or a shining star.
Khue Van Cac is the place where Confucian scholars gather to read the good literature of the scholars who have won the contest. With its unique architecture and symbolic meaning of Vietnamese literature and education, Khue Van Cac is chosen as the symbol of Hanoi City.
6.5. Thien Quang Well, Doctor Stele
Thien Quang well is built in a square shape with the meaning of symbolizing the earth. Located right behind Khue Van Cac with round doors representing the sky. These two symbols imply that all the quintessence of sky and earth are gathered at the cultural and educational center in the middle of the ancient imperial capital of Thang Long.
On the two sides of Thien Quang Well are 2 large stele rows called Doctor Stele. Each stone is a unique work of art, exquisitely sculpted and has great spiritual significance. 82 Doctoral Steles built on the backs of 82 bluestone turtles recognize and honor 82 valedictorians in the elections of the Vietnamese feudal dynasties.
On each stele, there is not only information about the doctor who passed the election that year, but also full information about the examination, the dynasty, the philosophy of education at that time. This is a very special and unique point in the world that makes Doctor Stele the most valuable sightseeing relic in the overall the Temple of Litterature area.
6.6. Dai Thanh Gate, the Shrine Area
Like Dai Trung Gate, Dai Thanh Gate also has 3 compartments with a column row in the middle and two rows of columns on the front porch. Stepping through the Dai Thanh Gate, visitors will come to a vast courtyard paved with Bat Trang bricks leading to the central area of the Quoc Tu Giam relic, which is Dai Bai Duong Shrine.
Dai Bai Duong consists of 9 compartments, there are 2 sidewalls, the front and back sides are empty. This is the place of worship in the ancient spring and autumn rituals. In Dai Bai Duong, only the middle is a shrine, the rest are vacant.
Toa Thuong Dien is located right behind and has a size similar to Dai Bai Duong. Between these two works is a square Tieu Dinh connecting. Thuong Dien consists of 9 compartments, it is the place to worship the ancestors of Confucianism. The middle compartment worships Confucius, the first teacher of Confucianism. The rest of the compartments worship his students.
6.7. Khai Thanh Temple
Khai Thanh Temple is the work at the end of the ancient Quoc Tu Giam relic. This is a place of worship for Confucius’s parents Thuc Luong Ngot and Nhan Thi. In the past, this area was an apartment complex with 150 rooms for students, also known as the Thai Hoc area, where to train talents for many dynasties. However, in 1946 in one cannon bombardment of the French colonialists, this area was completely destroyed. After that, the Temple of Khai Thanh was newly built and preserved to this day.
6.8. Tien Duong and Hau Duong houses
Tien Duong house is built newly in 1999. The 9-compartment house is a place to display pictures, articles about the spirit of studiousness, respect for teachers during the renovation period. This is also the place where cultural and artistic seminars bearing national identity often take place.
Hau Duong house is a 2-floor wooden architecture with the first floor consists of 9 compartments, the second floor consists of 5 compartments. The first floor is the place of worshiping Professor Chu Van An and exhibiting materials about Thang Long Temple of Literature and Vietnamese Confucian education. The second floor is a place of worship for celebrities who have contributed to the construction of the Temple of Literature and have made great contributions to the education of Vietnam such as Le Thanh Tong, Ly Nhan Tong, Ly Thai Tong.
7. What to note when visiting the Temple of Literature
- When visiting the Temple of Literature, visitors should pay special attention to the following things:
- Wear polite, neat, clean, and dignified clothing.
- Absolutely not wear hats, hats or smoke or carry inflammable and explosive materials in the premises of the Temple of Literature.
- Only light 1 incense stick in the right place.
- Go lightly and say quietly to keep the landscape and environment clean.
- Not doing superstitious activities, cheating, gambling in the Temple of Literature.
- Do not write or draw, sit up, touch the heads of turtles, Doctor Steles, and other exhibits.
According to the experience of visiting the Temple of Literature, the time to visit this relic area only takes from 1 to 3 hours. Therefore, visitors should have a schedule to visit other points near Van Mieu such as Hanoi Railway Station, Quan Su Pagoda, historical relics of Hoa Lo Prison, or Hanoi Tower.
Hopefully, the information in the article introduced and shared experiences in visiting the Temple of Literature and Quoc Tu Giam useful to you! If you have the opportunity to visit Hanoi, please remember to visit this place to feel the spirit of love study, and respect for the teacher of the Vietnamese nation that stretches through the centuries!