Discover Temple of Literature - Hanoi
The Temple of Literature is cited as one of Hanoi’s most photogenic of all tourist attractions. It was originally built as a place where sages and saints of Confucianism could be worshipped, but six years later, a National College was built on the site. Long ago it only admitted princes for an education, but it soon expanded to include exceptionally bright students nationwide. If you’re keen to know about the Confucian education system while looking at picturesque views, Trip Guru recommends a visit to the Temple of Literature.
The temple is surrounded by brick walls, the area separated into five areas, each having a different history and significance. The first area stretches from the main gate to the Dai Trung gate, and the second one is in the Khue Van Cac pavilion. The third courtyard is where various doctor’s names are listed on a tombstone. These tombstones have the names and origins of 1307 doctors, all passing 82 examination courses from 1442 to 1779. If you happen to visit the temple in the beginning of the year or in May, you can catch numerous students who rub the tortoise’s head for luck on their own exams.
In the Temple of Literature, there are 82 steles—the oldest are from the 1442 palace exams and the most recent are the 1779 exams, and are the most valuable relics in the entire temple. In the fourth area, there is a large courtyard that used to house the altars where scholars could worship the 72 disciples of Confucius. There is also a Great House of Ceremonies, called the Dai Bai and it contains a bell cast in 1768 and other precious objects. The final section became a temple dedicated to Confucius’s parents. In the past, Van Mieu was revered because of its status as the apogee of learning in Vietnam. Today, worshippers and acolytes merge with tourists.
To avoid the rush of people, try to visit during the off season, so you can take in the incredible aura of the long-dead scholars dedicated to the pursuit of enlightenment in relative peace. The temple is open from 8:30am to 11:30am, then 1:30pm to 4:30pm every day, except Mondays and national holidays. The temple is between Ton Duc Thang Street and Van Mieu Street, which is about 2 kilometers west of the Hoan Kiem Lake.