About 2km west of Sword Lake, the Temple of Literature is a very first stop-over point of any tourists when they come to Hanoi. It is a rare example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture as well as Hanoians’ spirit of study in the past. Founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, first the temple was dedicated to Confucius, then in 1076, when King Ly Nhan Tong built the first national university Quoc Tu Giam, it also was the place to honour Vietnam’s finest scholars and men of literary accomplishment.
The temple consists of five courtyards with three paths that run through the length of the complex. The centre path was reserved for the King only, the one to its left for administrative Mandarins and the one to its right for military Mandarins. The first two courtyards are peaceful heavens of ancient trees and well-trimmed lawns where the scholars could relax away from the bustle of the city outside the thick stone walls. Entrance to the third courtyard is through the dominating Khue Van Cac (constellation of literature), a large pavilion built in 1802. If you notice well, you can see the pavilion symbol in all street sign of Hanoi. Central to the this courtyard is the large square pond known as Well Of Heavenly Clarity, either side of which stand two great halls which house the true treasures of the temple. These are 82 stone stelea remain standing upon stone tortoises and are inscribed with the names and birth places of 1306 men who were awarded doctorates from the triennial examinations held here at the Quoc Tu Giam (“National University”) between 1484 and 1780.
The fourth courtyard is dedicated for Confucius and 72 Confucius greatest students as well as Chu Van An – a famous teacher known for his devotation to teaching. The last and also furthest courtyard is Thai Hoc house, which used to be Quoc Tu Giam- the first university of Vietnam. Thai Hoc house holds a small collection of old time costumes for students and mandarins, as well as explaining the process of taking and passing the national examination.
Though having gone through lots of restoration work, the temple still retains its very first original shape, to be one of the visit-worthy sightseeings of Hanoi, captivating to a huge number of tourists elsewhere. You should come here to get deeper understanding about Hanoi’s years of culture and tradition.
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