Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám, 文廟) Hanoi, Vietnam

Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám, 文廟) was established in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1070. The temple is located in old town Hanoi along with many other items of interest within easy walking distance (see Curious Cat Hanoi Tourist map). The temple grounds are enjoyable and provide a respite from chaotic Hanoi, and the history is interesting.

Temple of Literature courtyard

In 1076, Vietnam’s first university, the “Quốc Tử Giám” or Imperial Academy, was established within the temple to educate Vietnam’s bureaucrats, nobles, royalty and other members of the elite. The university remained open from 1076 to 1779. In 1802, the Nguyễn dynasty’s monarchs founded the Huế capital where they established a new imperial academy.

bee on orange flower with yellow flower in background

Bee on flower in the temple grounds.

The temple layout is similar to that of the temple at Qufu, Shandong, Confucius’ birthplace. It covers an area of over 54000 square meters.

Well of Heavenly Clarity at the Temple of Literature

Well of Heavenly Clarity in the 3rd courtyard.

In 1484, the King Lê Thánh Tông erected 116 doctors’ steles of carved blue stone turtles with elaborate motifs to honor talent and encourage study (82 stele remain). The names of 1307 graduates of 82 triennial royal exams. They are located in the 3rd courtyard.

photo of several of a steles in the courtyard

Doctor’s stele at the Temple. Turtles, representing longevity and wisdom, are the foundation of each stele.

The students enrolled for three to seven years. They had minor tests each month and four major tests per year. Success in the exams, certified by the “Ministry of Rites” qualified them to sit the national exam, the “Hoi”. Success at the “Hoi” qualified the student to sit the royal exam, the “Dinh”, held at court. At this exam, the monarch himself posed the questions, responded to the candidate’s answer and then ranked those who passed into different grades.

alter-place with offerings and statues

Learn more about the temple on wikipedia.

Related: Circumhorizontal Arc (Fire Rainbow) in Hoi An, VietnamMosaic Art at Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, LaosMasjid Jamek, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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