Experience The Temple of Literature

Experience The Temple of Literature
One of Hanoi’s national treasures is the Temple of Literature. Located in the center of the city, just outside of the French Quarter, this ancient landmark of intellectual inspiration is also a Confucius temple, as well as being a national university. Travelling through Hanoi and seeking out different temples there is one characteristic that is hard not to notice, which is one of the most alluring aspects to these Asian temples. It is the thoughtful care that has gone into the design and construction of all of the temple details. This is truly evident in the Temple of Literature.

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.

Temple of Literature
Temple of Literature Gate
Temple of Literature Garden
“It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.”
Confucius

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.

Did you know…?

In Vietnamese culture the tortoise represents strength and longevity.

Turtle Steles

Did you ALSO know…?

Those who could write Chinese characters were among the first of the aristocrats allowed to study at the Temple.

Han Writers at the temple

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