Temple of literature in HAnoi

By Custom Vietnam Travel | Updated 1/5/2019

When it comes to Hanoi Attractions, there are tons of attractions that you can spend precious time to visit. However, a rare example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture has been located in the heart of Hanoi for nearly 1000 years. It is the Temple of Literature or internationally known as the first university of Vietnam.

Temple of literature in the evening

According to the Lonely Planet, The Temple of Literature was founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, the attractive complex is dedicated to Confucius (Khong Tu) and was the foundation for Vietnam’s first university (1076). The Temple of Literature is divided into five courtyards in total. The first two courtyards are where scholars would relax amidst the large trees and manicured lawns. The second courtyard is easily recognizable by the Khue Van Cac pavilion. The wooden, red pavilion is established on four white stone columns, two circular windows and a spectacular brass bell which is only rung on a special occasion, to pray for everyone is happy and healthy. Moreover, the remaining three courtyards which are definitely important as the third courtyard hosts the Thien Quang, with two large halls on either side that house the treasured Stelae of Doctors. The Stelae are turtle statues, carved out of blue stone, that have the names and birthplaces of all 1307 graduates from 82 separate Royal examinations. People believe that if the students rub the heads of turtles then they will be wished with luck when it comes to exams. However, due to the preservation for those stone turtles, everyone is forbidden to touch them. The fifth courtyard, where the actual academy was, was not built until 1076 when Emperor Ly Nhan Tong ordered the construction of an imperial academy. Today, there are several exhibits here with a statue of Chu Van An who was one of the Academy’s rectors and a beloved figure in Vietnamese history for his dedication to teaching. There are also lots of cultural events held at the hall in this courtyard during some special occasions such as Mid-autumn festival, as well as displays of old uniforms that the scholars wore while studying there. The bells at the Temple of Literature, similar to others across Vietnam, were only permitted to be touched by monks.

Main Gate and further inside of Temple of Literature in Hanoi

It is not difficult to find the Temple of Literature. You can visit the temple of history at 58 Van Mieu street, Hanoi, to witness this historic heritage with some minor notes:

  • Opening hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

  • Entry ticket price: 30,000 VND (~1.3 USD)

  • Dress probably since this is a historical attraction.

  • Bring camera and notebook to capture your memories about the first university of Vietnam.

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Today, the Temple of Literature is a place to honor the predecessors and exhibit relics of the past! No more schooling activities take place at this place. Every Tet holidays (Chinese New Year), people gather at this Temple of Literature to pray for a new year with good grades, good hearts, for the national peace, or simply to enjoy traditional performances and buy some calligraphy written by elder scholars.  With time, many traditional customs have changed, and numerous accent buildings have turned to dust. What remains today is the belief in intellectualism and morality that is passed through generations and generations of the Vietnamese. The strength of that faith is expressed in the way people build and preserve the Temple of Literature as well as in the poems that were crafted onto the stone sheets. And hopefully, you – our dearest customer will understand this strength as you walk our soil and interact with our people. Let’s pay the Temple of Literature a visit one day with Custom Vietnam Travel.

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