Confucian temple complex

Last update at 09/14/2011 20:08. By Hanoi Local Guide.

Confucian temple complex
By Hanoi Local Guide


This large Confucian temple complex dates back nearly 1,000 years to 1070 when it was built by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong. It was the sight of Vietnam’s first university and became known as a temple due to the close link between learning and religion. It was the Chinese Mandarins who brought Confucianism to the country when they ruled, here, between 179 B.C. and A.D. 938.

Architecturally, it is a fine example of classic Chinese with Vietnamese influences. Still present are 82 tortoise-carrying stele, (there were originally 117), which list the names, places of birth and achievements of 1,306 graduate students who accomplished exceptional results during the Le Dynasty, between 1484 and 1780.

Beyond the final building, known as the sanctuary, the real university began. In 1076 Vietnam's first university, the Quoc Tu Giam (meaning “"Temple of the King Who Distinguished Literature,") or Imperial Academy, was established within the temple to educate Vietnam's bureaucrats, nobles, royalty and other members of the elite. The university functioned for more than 700 years, from 1076 to 1779.

This ancient Confucian sanctuary is now considered one of Hanoi's finest historical sites. The temple is based on Confucius' birthplace at Qufu in the Chinese province of Shandong, which I’ve visited (see my Qufu page). 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 the length of the complex. The centre path was reserved for the king, the one to its left for administrative Mandarins and the one to its right for military Mandarins.

Entrance to the third courtyard is through the dominating Khue Van Cac (constellation of literature), a large pavilion built in 1802. The fourth courtyard is bordered on either side by great pavilions which once contained altars of 72 of Confucius' greatest students but now contain offices, a gift shop and a small museum displaying ink wells, pens, books and personal artefacts belonging to some of the students that studied here through the years.

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Photos of Temple of Literature
Location Hanoi
Basin countries Vietnam

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