The Temple of Literature in Hanoi was built in 1070. What makes this temple so special is the Imperial Academy located within the temple grounds which, from 1076 to 1779, was a university educating senior administrators, nobles and members of the royal family in an education system based on the teachings of Chinese Philosopher Confucius.
The Temple of Literature is open to visitors from 08:00 to 17:00 each day and entrance costs 30,000 VND. We recommend visiting early in the morning as this is a very popular attraction which receives large numbers of visitors every day.
About the Temple of Literature
The temple is comprised of a series of courtyards with gardens located on the left hand side as you enter through the main gate to the temple.
First Two Courtyards
The first two courtyards contain gardens, with bushes cut into shapes to resemble the 12 signs of the zodiac. The second courtyard contains the Khue Van pavilion, which sits on four white concrete columns and houses a large drum. The Khue Van pavilion is a late addition to the temple constructed in 1805.
The Third courtyard is the most well known part of the Temple of the Literature. At the centre of this courtyard is a large pond known as the Thien Quang well.
Stelae of Doctors
On either side of the Thien Quang well are the Stelae of Doctors. These are large stone tablets which sit on top of turtles. Inscribed on the stone tablets are the names and a brief biography of the students who successfully passed the final exams at the Imperial Academy.
116 stelae were erected by the Emperor in 1484 and they record the names of all the successful students at the Imperial Academy from 1442 until the Academy closed in 1779. 82 of the stelae remain in place today and the inscriptions are an important source of historic information about Vietnam during the period.
The fourth courtyard has altar halls at each side and the House of Ceremonies in the centre.
The altar halls and the House of Ceremonies contain shrines to Confucius and the most important disciples of Confucius. Confucius and his disciples are credited with rationalising the administration of government in China and the ideas were adopted by Vietnam’s rulers.
The fifth courtyard contains the Imperial Academy building. On either side of the courtyard are classrooms and in the centre of the courtyard there is a single storey front building and a double storey back building. These two buildings now serve as museums containing various displays and a model of the Temple of Literature.
Statue of Chu Văn An
The centre piece of the Imperial Academy is the Statue of Chu Văn An on the ground floor of the rear building. Chu Văn An was rector of the Imperial Academy from 1314 to 1329 and an academic renown for spreading the teachings of Confucius who was later promoted to high office during the reign of Emperor Tran Du Tong. Chu Văn An famously resigned his post in protest at the execution of fellow administrators accused of corruption.
Location of the Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature is located 1.5 km by road from Hanoi Railway Station.