The Temple of Literature (Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam) is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Hanoi, attracting millions of domestic and foreign visitors each year. It is not only a unique architectural complex, bearing the imprint of Confucian culture, but also a place that preserves the historical marks of a thousand years of Vietnamese civilization.
The Temple of Literature was built in 1070, during the reign of King Ly Nhan Tong, serving both as a place to worship Confucian sages and a royal school for the Crown Prince. In 1076, King Ly Nhan Tong established the Quoc Tu Giam school next to the Temple of Literature, which was the first university in Vietnam, for the children of kings, nobles, and the privileged.
In 1253, King Tran Thai Tong changed Quoc Tu Giam to Quoc Hoc vien, expanded it, and admitted the children of commoners who were good at studying. From 1300 to 1357, Chu Van An, one of Vietnam’s famous scholars, was invited to be a Quoc Tu Giam scholar, equivalent to today’s principal, and taught Prince Tran Vuong.
Through the following dynasties, the Temple of Literature was still repaired and supplemented, becoming a place to organize provincial, association, and temple exams, selecting talents for the country.
Architectural Complex and Relics
The Temple of Literature has an area of about 54,331 m2, surrounded by four brick walls. Inside, there are five layers of space, each layer has three gates to communicate with each other. From the outside in, the gates are: Van Mieu gate, Dai Trung, Khue Van Cac, Dai Thanh, and Thai Hoc gate. Within the relic area, there are many beautiful architectural works, such as: Dai Bai Duong, Khue Van Cac, Thai Hoc Palace, Stela of Scholars, Van Lake…
Each construction in the Temple of Literature has its own meaning, expressing the spirit of respecting teachers, loving learning, and the spirit of the ancient Vietnamese. The most prominent in the Temple of Literature is 82 stone steles, recording the names, hometowns, and achievements of 1307 doctoral laureates from the temple exams from 1442 to 1779. These are valuable documents, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage in the Memory of the World program in 2010.
Tourism and Cultural Activities
The Temple of Literature is an attractive destination for tourists who want to explore the culture and history of Hanoi. Visitors can visit, admire the architectural works, learn about the formation and development process of the first university in Vietnam, as well as the predecessors who contributed to building the civilization of the nation.
Visiting the Temple of Literature, tourists can also participate in cultural activities, such as: Confucius worship ceremony, honorary doctorate award ceremony, poetry festival, flower festival… Especially, this is also a place where students, university students, and candidates come to pray for luck, ask for blessings before each important exam.
The Temple of Literature is not only a historical and cultural relic, but also a symbol of the learning spirit, the aspiration to rise of the Vietnamese people. Coming to the Temple of Literature, visitors will have interesting, meaningful, and memorable experiences.