Hanoi Temple of Literature

Hanoi Temple of Literature

Hanoi, Vietnam
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Hanoi Temple of Literature or Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam is a famous historical and cultural relic consisting of the Temple of Literature and Vietnam’s first university. It is located on Van Mieu street, about 2km from Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi Old Quarter. The Temple of Literature was built in 1070 in honour of Confucius, […]

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Hanoi Temple of Literature or Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam is a famous historical and cultural relic consisting of the Temple of Literature and Vietnam’s first university. It is located on Van Mieu street, about 2km from Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi Old Quarter.

The Temple of Literature was built in 1070 in honour of Confucius, his followers and Chu Van An, a moral figure in Vietnamese education. Quoc Tu Giam, or Vietnam’s first university, was built in 1076. Throughout its hundreds of years of activity in the feudal, thousands of Vietnamese scholars graduated from this university.

In 1483 Quoc Tu Giam was changed into Thai Hoc Vien (Higher Educational Institute). After decades of war and natural disasters, the former construction was completely destroyed. In preparation for the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long (present day Hanoi) another construction has been built following the model of the previous Thai Hoc Vien on the same ground. The work includes the front hall, the back sanctuary, lean-tos on the left and on the right, the courtyard, and subsidiary structures.

This site preserves historical vestiges of a 1,000-year-old civilization such as statues of Confucius and his disciples (Yan Hui, Zengshen, Zisi, Mencius), and ancient constructions such as Khue Van Cac (Pavilion of the Constellation of Literature) and the Worshipping Hall.

Hanoi Literature Temple also honored 82 doctorates who had passed through a number of rigid exams held here in feudal ages. Their names, birthdays and birthplaces are engraved in 82 headstones perched on crafted tortoises. It is well believed that touching the heads of these tortoises will bring luck.

Constellation of Literature Pavilion

Pavilion of the Constellation of Literature is part of the Temple Literature. It was was built under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). The artifacts, collected during the recent excavation drives around Van Mieu (Temple of Literature) in Hanoi proved the architecture of this site belongs to the Ly (1010-1225) and Tran (1225-1400) dynasties.

Life of the students in olden times is reflected through these artifacts and seemed to be simple and pure compared to that of the city dwellers. Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam (National College) now preserves 82 steles engraved with the names of 1,306 doctors who obtained the doctoral titles at 82 royal examinations, held from 1442 to 1779.

Although Van Mieu was built long ago, some architectural complexes in this area were erected much later. One of them was Khue Van Cac. In 1802, Gia Long took the throne and built the capital in Hue. In 1805, the Commander of the Northern Citadel, Nguyen Van Thanh, ordered the construction of Khue Van Cac at Van Mieu. This project was carried out at the same time as the erection of the surrounding walls around Van Mieu in 1833.

The pavilion was a two-storey complex made of wood and bricks, which is mirrored on the Thien Quang Well. Located in the third courtyard (from the front gate), the pavilion’s ground floor is empty with four brick pillars of 85cm x 85cm engraved with designs of clouds. The pillars stand on a square base, 6.8m x 6.8m, which is covered with Bat Trang bricks.

The upper floor, made of wooden frames, stands on four brick pillars, with four round windows facing the four directions and having rays like the sun. This floor is the symbol of the brilliant constellation that is shining. The Oriental people consider this star as a symbol of literature. On this floor, the balustrade is supported by engraved wooden pieces and a gilt board with three letters of Khue Van Cac hanging on the wall.

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