What to see
Overlooking the breezy West Lake is the legendary temple of Quan Thanh. The temple was the house of the Taoist god- Huyen Thien Tran Vu. Together with three other temples, Quan Thanh Temple is one of the four pillars supporting the holy essence of the capital. The history of the temple dated back from the Ly Dynasty when its first king moved his seat of power to Hanoi.
Huyen Thien Tran Vu- the ruling god of the Temple is a combined image between the original god in Taoism from China and the local god in Vietnamese legend. In all, he is in charge of the North. The black bronze statue of his is thus the most important sight within the temple. In 1677-during the dynasty of Le, the bronze artisans from the famous bronze village nearby contributed the statue to the temple in their honor of the god. The bronze statue is of jet black. The god was depicted together with his two symbolic animal- the turtle and the serpent. The size of the statue is rather impressive as compared to its contemporary art. The god statue is 3.96 m tall and more than 3600kg heavy. It is situated on a marble pedestal -1.2 m tall. Because of the statue, the French colonizers mistakenly called the Temple as the Grand Pagoda of Budha. This is a considerable mistake as the temple is dedicated to Taoism not Buddhism. The temple also housed a bell of 1.15m. The god statute and the bell were both attributed to a craft master. He was the best bronze blacksmith of his time. Thus he also had a statue of his own within the Temple as his students wanted to honor him after his death.
The Temple itself has gone through a couple times of renovation. Hence, it bears the beauty of different art styles. The prominent art pieces are its wood carvinsg. There are intricate carvings of traditional motifs such as the four holy animals, bat, fish, bamboo, chrysanthemum, apricot and liquor jar. The Temple generally consists of two parts. The outside structure is the praying room with lacquer pole and roof structures; while the inside room houses the statue of Huyen Thien Tran Vu.
The temple is a nice place to visit after you have wandered through the Old Quarter. Heading down here for the temple, you can have more relaxing atmosphere near the West Lake. If you are in mood for a latte or mocha after the long walk, walk further south toward the lake from the temple then you can find the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf shop.