Our next stop after our memorable exploration of Trấn Quốc Pagda, we head off to our next destination. We originally wanted to explore the Ho Chi Minh Museum. Unfortunately, being a Saturday, the crowd was overwhelming. So we made a pit stop for coffee (who could resist coffee in Vietnam especially for coffee lover like us) in a popular coffee joint where we enjoyed some good Vietnamese coffee while I also took the opportunity to buy some coffee beans to bring home.
Our next stop, The Temple of Literature, (Vietnamese: Văn Miếu), a Temple of Confucius located in Hanoi. In the temple, is the Imperial Academy (Vietnamese: Quốc Tử Giám) also Vietnam’s first national university.
The Temple of Literature, was build in 1070 under the reign of Emperor Lý Thánh Tông. It is one of the several temples in Vietnam that is dedicated to Confucius.
The Temple of Literature, contain various pavilions, halls and statues that are placed where offering ceremonies, study sessions and strict exams took place.
It is said that before the Vietnamese New Year celebration (also known in China and other part of the world as Lunar New Year), calligraphists will assemble outside the temple to write wishes in Han characters that are given away as gifts or use as home decorations for the special occasions.
Our exploration started with the main entrance where we saw that day many students. It seems that there were some graduation ceremonies held that day with photo taking sessions.
The entrance to the first courtyard extended from Great Portico to the Đại Trung which is flanked by two smaller gates, the the Dai Tai gate (Đại Tài Môn) and the Thanh Duc gate (Thành Đức Môn).
The second courtyard is where Khuê Văn Các, Khue Van pavilion, a unique architectural is located. There is a red-coloured with two circular windows with elaborated roof where a bronze bell hangs to be rung on auspicious occasions.
Súc Văn Môn, Suc Van gate and Bi Văn Môn, Bi Van gate are located beside Khuê Văn Các. There two gates are dedicated to the beauty of literature both in content and its form.
Stelae of Doctors was erected by Emperor Lê Thánh Tông in 1484. The 116 steles of carved blue stone turtles with elaborated motifs are erected to honour talent and encourage study. The Turtle, (Quy, 龜) is known as one of the nation’s four holy creatures – the others are Dragon (Long, 龍), the Unicorn (Ly, 麟) and the Phoenix (Phượng, 鳳). Turtle are a symbol of longevity and wisdom.
Stelae of Doctors are valuable historical resource for the study culture in Vietnam. There are 82 stelae remaining, depict the names and birth places of 1307 graduates of 82 triennial royal exams. The ancient Chinese engravings on each stele praise the merits of the monarch and cite the reason the royal exams are held.
It is commonly known as rubbing the stone turtles head will bring luck in the studies of the individual. Unfortunately, there is a fence that is meant to prevent people from doing so to preserve the turtles.
The fourth courtyard located through the Dai Thanh gate (Đại Thành Môn). On either side are two smaller gates: Kim Thanh gate (Kim Thanh Môn) and the Ngoc Chan gate (Ngọc Chấn Môn).
On each side of the ceremonial fourth courtyard are two halls that were build to house altars to the 72 most honoured disciples of Confucius and Chu Văn An. House of Ceremonies (Đại Bái Đường) is located in the centre of the fourth courtyard.
Imperial Academy were build in 1076 in the fifth courtyard. The courtyard was reconstructed in 2000 with the design based on the traditional architecture in harmony with the surrounding sights of the temple.
We were very lucky to be able to see a group of beautiful Vietnamese girls taking photographs to commemorate their graduation in the Front Building.
We also visited the rear building which has two level. The statue of Chu Văn An (a rector of the academy) are located on the ground floor which also exhibits the temple and academy of display on Confucian education in Vietnam.
The upper floor is where it is dedicated to the three monarchs whom have contributed to the foundation of the temple and academy, Lý Thánh Tông (1023–1072), who founded the temple in 1070, Lý Nhân Tông (1066–1127), who founded the Imperial Academy, and Lê Thánh Tông (1442–1497), who ordered the erection of the turtle stone stelae of doctor laureates in 1484.
Stepping out onto the balcony, one is able to see the red roof where there were money thrown on the roof. It is said that these is sort of wishing ‘well’ for those who wishes to excel in their studies.
The final stop is to see the drum and bronze bell located on each side of the rear building.
A truly amazing learning experience, The Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu) is indeed a highly recommended place in Hanoi.
Now, off to lunch we go before we continue our exploration for the day.
Our memorable holiday to Vietnam is arranged by the friendly and helpful team at Hanoi Boutique Hotel