Tag Archives: hanoi city tour

Temple of literature – the first national university of Vietnam

Temple of literature is the first national university of Vietnam. it is on top of the historical and beautiful sightseeings of the beautiful capital of Vietnam.

The very first stop-over of any foreign tourist in Hanoi is always Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam (translated as Temple of Literature), which reveals the Hanoians’ spirit of study in the past!

Situated at the south of Thang Long citadel, is on top of the historical and beautiful sightseeings of the beautiful capital of Vietnam. Please follow us in a brief tour of exploring his beauty and deep values.

Constellation of Literature pavilion

historical temple of literature

Tourists, particularly the foreign ones, now flock to the site for taking a look into its profound traditional meanings of both a Confucion temple and the first university of Vietnam. Văn Miếu or Temple of Literature, known as “pagode des Corbeaux” during the period of French colonisation, was founded as a Confucian temple in 1070.

Only parts of the Văn Miếu complex date back to the earliest period, although much of the architecture dates to the Ly (1010 – 1225) and Tran (1225 – 1400) Dynasties. In 1076, Vietnam’s first university, the Quốc Tử Giám (or National University), was established within this temple to educate Vietnam’s mandarin class. The university functioned for more than 700 years, from 1076 to 1779, during which, 2,313 doctors graduated. Hence, the complex has been attached to the name of Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam up to now.

A beauty-spot of architectural values

This ancient Confucian sanctuary is now considered one of Hanoi’s finest historical and cultural sites. “The ever special architetural style of Van Mieu dates back to the 11th century, evoking an inspiration of classical creativeness of many of us”, one of my tourists remarked. Just take a look into the art of architecture, you will share the feeling! The temple is based on Confucius’ birthplace at Qufu in the Chinese province of Shandong. It consists of five courtyards lined out in order, entrance to the first, via the impressive twin-tiered Van Mieu gate leads to three pathways that run through the length of the complex. The centre path was reserved for the King only, the one to its left for administrative Mandarins and the one to its right for military Mandarins.

Well Of Heavenly Clarity

The first two courtyards are peaceful havens of ancient trees and well-trimmed lawns where the scholars could relax away from the bustle of the city outside the thick stone walls. Entrance to the third courtyard is through the dominating Khue Van Cac (constellation of literature), a large pavilion built in 1802. Central to the this courtyard is the Thien Quang Tinh (“Well Of Heavenly Clarity”), either side of which stand two great halls which house the true treasures of the temple. These are 82 stone steles. Another 34 are believed to have been lost over the years. They sit upon stone tortoises and are inscribed with the names and birth places of 1306 men who were awarded doctorates from the triennial examinations held here at the Quoc Tu Giam (“National University”) between 1484 and 1780, when the capital was moved to Hue.

Doctor stelae – Temple of literature

The fourth courtyard is bordered on either side by great pavilions which once contained altersl of 72 of Confucius greatest students but which now contain offices, a gift shop and a small museum which contains ink wells, pens, books and personal artifacts belonging to some of the students that have studied here through the years. At the far end of the courtyard is the altar with statues of Confucius and his four closest disciples. The fifth courtyard contained the Quoc Tu Giam, Vietnam’s first university founded in 1076 King Ly Can Duc, but this was destroyed by French bombing in 1947.

Though having gone through lots of restoration work, the temple still retains its very first original shape, to be one of the visit-worthy sightseeings of Hanoi, captivating to a huge number of tourists elsewhere.

In the run-up to the Vietnamese New Year celebration, calligraphist tend to assemble outside the temple and write wishes in Hán tự, which are popular amongst Vietnamese as gifts or to be used as decoration at home for auspicious occasions.

A space of peace, green trees and solemnity covers the whole temple of historical and traditional love for study, making tourists feel like they were lost in a land of Confucion and traditional values. If you are in Hanoi, you should really come and explore it yourself!

If tourists in Vietnam Travel have chance to visit Hanoi, Temple of Literature is a must-see place that should not be missed!


What sightseeing places you should see in Hanoi

Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam, situated in the north of the country and the second largest city, after Ho Chi Minh City. Hanoi has been the capital of the North Vietnam for over 1,000 years and was the former capital of French Indochina and later North Vietnam prior to reunification in 1976. There are many intriguing sights and things to do in Hanoi.

Hanoi sits on the banks of the Red River, which gives the city a cooler and more temperate climate than South Vietnam. With a population of over 6 million people, the city can feel crowded, although the wide tree-lined Colonial Boulevard in central Hanoi’s Old Quarter offers a welcome respite from the jostling crowds.

There are a wealth of attractions and cultural sites – Hanoi boasts over 600 pagodas and temples! Here are our top suggestions:

1. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – The mausoleum opened in 1975 in honor of the national hero, Ho Chi Minh who lies embalmed within the building. He actually asked for a cremation and is instead housed within a Soviet-style mausoleum which is open to the public with free admission. Be prepared to queue quietly, go through security scanners and leave any fruit behind. You can also watching a changing of the guard routine which is carried out wordlessly.


2. Presidential Palace – The former residence of the French Governor General, Designed in the Italian Renaissance style, the site also displays the former residence of ‘Uncle Ho’, or Ho-Chi-Minh, the former leader and father to all Vietnamese citizens.


3. One Pillar Pagoda – A historic Buddhist temple which is regarded as one of Vietnam’s most iconic. As the name suggests it is a small timber temple perched on a single stone pillar and was commissioned in 1049 by the Emperor Lý Thái Tông.


4. Temple of Literature – The Temple of Literature site of one of Vietnam’s oldest Universities and dates back to circa 1070. Just one of the many things to do in Hanoi, this is now a Confucian Temple, one of many in the country but easily the most famous of all and is considered to be one of Hanoi’s finest historical sites.


5. Hanoi Hilton – No, not another hotel chain, but the ironic name given to the Hoa Lo Prison used by its most famous former residents, namely American Prisoners of war, including the Senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, who spent parts of his five and a half years as a POW there. The site however dates back to the French colonial period (1886) and depicts much of its dark history in the remaining old buildings.


6. Ethnology Museum – It contains more than 10,000 objects, 15,000 black and white photos and hundreds of video tapes and cassettes which depict all aspects of life, activities, customs, and habits of the 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam.


The museum has successfully recreated the daily life together with the religious rituals and the symbolic festivals of each ethnic group in Vietnam. Visitors have the opportunity to admire costumes, embroidery as well as outside stilt houses and habitats from the different groups.

All displayed objects mingle and supplement one another to create a colourful and diversified picture of Vietnamese culture. An open-air exhibition in the museum’s spacious and peaceful ground features ethnic houses from all over Vietnam.

7.  Vietnam Women’s Museum – The museum displays rather recent history of women, such as women and ethnicity; women and the national struggle; Vietnam women association and the feminism; women and traditional costumes; and women’s cultural traits expressed through handicrafts.

There are also frequent exhibitions on contemporary women, such as women working as street vendors or women’s place in the family. The Vietnam Women’s Museum is definitely worth a few hour visit, especially for those keen on learning about culture and gender.