Starting your exploration, you will venture through the main gate, The Gate Portico, which was constructed in 1070. Much of the main gate is still in its original form. Take time to look at the gate before going through. Every aspect of the gate seems to have a purpose from the descending tiger, representing strength, to the two stelae, telling horsemen to dismount before entering. With so much history within the placement of absolutely everything, this is a place to hire a guide who can explain these details fully.
Unique Things to See Near The Temple of Literature
- Tour the Vietnam National Museum
- See the Presidential Palace
- Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
- Admire the Flag Tower of Hanoi
Design and Details are everything at The Temple of Literature
After venturing through the Gate of Portico, the gardens of the first courtyard open up before you. In total there are 5 courtyards separated by walls and gates which visitors must pass through – each represents a journey in knowledge. In the first courtyard there are a couple of distinct features – this first of which is the banyan tree, symbolizing the importance of having strong roots and a strong foundation to build a path of learning upon. The second is that the path leads directly down the center, creating balance and harmony – in accordance with the Confucian Middle Path. Progressing through the courtyards you will pass through the Great Middle courtyard, Garden of the Stelae, Courtyard of the Sages, and finally the School for the Sons of the nation.
Nowadays the Temple of Literature is seen more as a temple than its original intention as a place of study solely for the King’s sons. Specially built for the princes, it was Ly King who constructed the national college but later he invited the sons of the aristocracy in. The Temple housed the students, provided lectures, and taught writing and literature. The Royal Examinations for these students were incredibly difficult and could last for months. You’ll see many Vietnamese school groups touring the Temple of Literature and paying respect to the teachings of Confucius.
Getting to The Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature is located in Dong Da District on Quoc Tu Giam Street. It is open from 8:30 to 11:30 and 13:30 to 16:30 every day and the admission fee is 10,000 VND (at the time of writing). The Temple is located about a 20 minute or 2 km walk away from Hoan Kiem Lake. For those who’d rather not walk you can easily catch a motorcycle taxi ride.
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