Have you ever noticed that what an ancient complex used as the symbol of Hanoi as well as printed on one side of the 100,000 VND note? The answer is the Temple of Literature – Vietnam’s oldest Imperial Academy under the feudal courts và the first national university. The temple was built in dedication khổng lồ Confucian philosophy và still holds a spiritual significance to each generation of students và educators in Vietnam at present.

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History of Temple of Literature

The temple was first built in 1070 in the Ly dynasty the reconstructed during 1225 – 1400 under the command of Tran Kings. Having strongly stood through centuries of wars, disasters, and major restorations, the temple still maintains its solemnly ancient look reflecting the architectural styles of various feudal dynasties và histories.

In 1070, according khổng lồ the order of King Ly thai Tong, the Temple of Literature was designed và built. The royal engineers had directed lớn place the statues of Confucius and his four famous disciples: Yan Hui, Zengzi, Zisi, & Mencius inside the structure. Besides, the picture featuring the Duke of Zhou was carved and 72 other Confucian scholars were painted. Temple was also where the Heir Apparent of the Imperial Throne and other princes studied.

In 1076, the Imperial Academy, Vietnam’s first university was established within the Temple of Literature to lớn be the place of education for the kingdom’s royalty, nobles, và members of the elite class. However, in 1802, King Gia Long moved the capital khổng lồ Hue và a new royal academy was placed. The Temple of Literature was still an educational symbol, but failed in prominence and became a district school.


In the period of the French colony, the Temple of Literature was recognized as a Historic Monument & put under restoration. Now, all the architectures still remain at their stunning classic beauty và the Temple becomes a famous tourist attraction in Hanoi.

Sections in Temple of Literature

The Temple structure resembles the Temple of Qufu, Shandong, China, Confucius’s birthplace. The layout includes an area of 54000 square meters with the Literature Lake, the Giam Park, & the courtyards surrounded by a brick wall. Four giant pillars rest in the front of the Entrance Gate, on each side of the pillars, laid two steles requiring horsemen lớn dismount.

The gate then leads to three pathways further into the complex. The path in the middle was used by the monarch, which above it hangs a large bronze bell. The left path was reserved for the Administrative Mandarins and the right path was occupied by the Military Mandarins.

First Courtyard

The first courtyard stretches over an area from the Great Portico khổng lồ the dẻo Trung (The Great Middle gate), which is halted by two minor gates: dẻo Tai tháng (the Gate of Attained Talent) & Thanh Duc mon (the Gate of Accomplished Virtue).

Second Courtyard

In the second courtyard lay a quality Vietnam architecture work since the 1805 và an emblem of present Hanoi – Khue Van Cac or the Pavilion of The Constellation of Literature. The Pavilion was built on four white stone stilts. On đứng top of the stilts is a scarlet-painted house with two wooden circular windows & an elaborate roof. On two sides of the Khue Van Cac are the Suc Van mon (Crystallization of Letters gate) và Bi Van tháng (Magnificence of Letters gate). As their name may suggest, those gates were designed lớn praise the beauty of literature in both its content and its form. A ray of topiaries representing the 12 Vietnamese zodiac animals run straight from the first to lớn the second courtyard.

Pavillion of Constellation-one of the symbols of Hanoi

Third Courtyard

An outstanding feature of the third courtyard is the Thien quang Tinh (Well of Heavenly Clarity). On either side of the well stands two great halls guarding the treasure of the temple.

Stelae of Doctors

In 1484, King Le Thanh Tong commanded the construction of 116 steles of turtles to lớn honor talent and study. In ancient Vietnam, the turtle represented wisdom & longevity. Now, there are 82 steles remain. They were carved with the names & places of 1307 graduates in 82 triennial royal exams. Vietnamese believe that rubbing the turtles’ heads will bring luck và success lớn their academic path. The act has somehow become a tradition for each modern Vietnamese students going khổng lồ the Temple praying for higher achievement in the upcoming important exams. Nevertheless, when realizing the stone has slowly been abraded, the Temple’s managers have placed a fence lớn prevent people from approaching the stone turtles.

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Stone steles in the temple

Fourth Courtyard

Entrance to lớn the fourth courtyard is accessible through the dẻo Thanh Mon, with two smaller gates on each side: the Kim Thanh tháng (Golden Sound Gate) & Ngoc Chan mon (Jade Vibration Gate).

Altars to lớn Confucius & his disciples

Confucius is worshipped in the temple

Two halls stand on either side of the ceremonial fourth courtyard, in the center places The House of Ceremonies (Dai Bai Duong). The large building is the Thuong Dien (Sanctuary of dai Thanh), where people come khổng lồ worship Confucius và his four disciples. A sanctuary is a place of worship for ten honored philosophers.

Fifth Courtyard

In 1076, King Ly Nhan Tong instructed the addition of an imperial academy khổng lồ the complex as the fifth courtyard. This was where the future literate mandarins studied.

The statue of Chu Van An-The first principal of the university Quoc Tu Giam

The upper floor is to lớn honor three kings who contributed khổng lồ the construction of the Temple: Ly bầu Tong (1023–1072), founder of the Temple, Ly Nhan Tong (1066–1127), founder of the Imperial Academy, and Le Thanh Tong (1442–1497), who commanded the building of the turtle stone stele of doctor laureates.

Highlights of the Temple of Literature

The Temple of Literature is definitely a must-see for any tourist desiring to explore Hanoi’s ancient beauty and culture. Below are the reasons why a trip khổng lồ Hanoi’s Quoc Tu Giam is worth spending.

Discover the First National University of Vietnam

In nowhere in Vietnam there is a place that holds such significant value of education, literature, and academics as it does in Quoc Tu Giam. As Vietnam’s first university, the Temple has been chosen as Hanoi’s symbol of wisdom, talent, và study. One cannot explore the depth of Hanoi if skipping a visit to lớn the very symbol of this thousand years old city.

Observe a chất lượng Examination Culture of Vietnam

Every year, before the university entrance exam – a milestone for each student in Vietnam – is conducted, there is a tradition that high-school students would come khổng lồ Quoc Tu Giam praying for success in the exams. Students often come lớn pay respect to lớn the Confucian philosophers, speaking of their wish to lớn pass the exam in flying color. It is also common for them to lớn purchase lucky Norm script letters written by calligraphists. The letter can imply success, high mark, talent, achievement, or effort & is written in red silk paper or carved in a necklace’s pendant.

Students taking photos for their graduation at the temple

Behold the Beauty of Vietnamese Female Students in their Traditional Dress

The spring of each year is also the time for university students khổng lồ prepare for their yearbook photo – a keeper of their memories with each other. Visiting the Temple of Literature in this time, tourists are expected to lớn find many beautiful Vietnamese girls in the graceful traditional ao dai, which they bởi vì not dress usually today except on special occasions. Ao dai and Quoc Tu Giam – two symbols of Hanoi combine can draw such outstanding classic beauty. Temple of Literature is also an indispensable destination within any student tours as well as Vietnamese school trips.

Preserves the Writings of Nom Script

This is logographic writing used to lớn write the Vietnamese language in ancient times. Now, the letter of Nom script was used for spiritual purposes only. In Vietnam New Year, Nom calligraphist masters often sit beside the gate of Quoc Tu Giam, writing Nom letters on a silk paper, making them look like a painting. People tend lớn purchase them khổng lồ decorate their house as a symbol of fortune or present them as a gift khổng lồ friends, implying that they pray for their friend a new year of success, too.

Ceremonies và Worshipping

Special ceremonies are held in each season lớn honor Vietnam’s ancient scholars. Worshippers often dress gorgeously in ceremonial traditional clothes, dancing, chanting, & offering incense & fruits khổng lồ the altar. Visitors should not leave their cameras at home, or else we could miss the chance khổng lồ records the interesting rituals of the ceremony.

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How to lớn Get lớn the Temple of Literature

The Temple of Literature is located on the Van Mieu St, Dong domain authority District. The complex is 1km from Hoan Kiem Lake and 1.2 km from the Mausoleum of Ho chi Minh. Most people travel to lớn the Temple by bike, with the parking fee is 5000 Vietnamese dong per bike. However, there are also plenty of buses that offer a stop at the main entrance lượt thích the 02, 23, 32, 38, & 41.

Entrance Access to lớn Temple of Literature

In hot season (15/4 to lớn 15/10): From 7h30 lớn 17h30In the cold season (16/10 lớn 14/4): From 8h00 to 17h00Entrance Fee: 30,000 VND per person