What to see
Located on 58 Quoc Tu Giam Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi Capital, Temple of Literature is the Vietnamese’s pride when it is the first university of Vietnam. The Temple was built in 1070 under King Ly Thanh Tong with an aim of worshiping Confucius. Moreover, this used to be the school for King’s sons. The King named it “Temple of Literature” instead of Math or Philosophy because in the ancient time, Literature was all the things that they had to learn following the Confucian education system. In 1070, once becoming the King, Ly Thanh Tong processed to build the Temple – the first school for nation’s sons – the first university of Vietnam. At that time, Vietnamese only had their oral language; therefore they used almost all written language in Chinese which was used to decorate the Temple.
The Quoc Tu Giam is divided into 5 courtyards. The reason is that “5” is a sacred number when there are 5 main elements creating our world: metal, wood, water, fire and earth, 5 virtues and 5 basic relationships. After entering the Entrance Gate, you can see the Middle Gate with a variety of interesting cultural symbols. At the gate-top, the symbol “two carps with one jar” is the most attracting to all the visitors in terms of its meaning. Besides the main gate for the King, Virtue Gate (Thanh Duc) and Talent Gate (Dat Tai) are two ways for the fellows. Virtue and Talent are considered to be the most important qualities under the education system for all the students. The Khue Van Cac (Pavilion of Constellation of Literature is seen as a bright symbol not only for this Temple but for Hanoi Capital although it was built in 18th century when the Temple was restored by Nguyen King. Going inside the Pavilion, there comes the famous Stele Garden which was first built in 15th century. Each stele represents a single examination a year, including one part for nice words towards the King, one for the exam information and the last for the personal information of that doctor degree. You are also impressed with the architecture and the meaning of the Great House of Ceremonies where only the King and his fellows made their offerings to Confucius. Inside the Main House, the Greatest teacher of Vietnam – Chu Van An is worshipped. In spite of the change in Model, the Temple of literature still remains its antique architecture and historical meaning until now.
How to get there?
In order to visit the Temple of Literature, you can take the buses number 02, 03, 41 or going by bike, but remember there are a lot of one-way streets in this area, so be careful with your driving directions!