Hanoi’s Historical Sites Series: Văn Miếu

Located 2 kilometers west of Hoàn Kiếm Lake is the Temple of Literature or Văn Miếu.  It is a temple of Confucius built for Confucian sages and scholars.

temple of literature hanoi

The main gate has 3 entry points:  the center for the monarchs, the left for the administrative Mandarins, and the right for the military Mandarins.  A bronze bell can be found on top of the center pathway which can only be rung and touched by monks.  In modern-day Vietnam, only the center door is left open for visitors.

temple of literature1
The first courtyard leads to the Great Middle Gate which is in between two smaller gates, the “Attained Talent” Gate and the “Accomplished Virtue” Gate.

1st courtyard temple of literature
The second courtyard leads to the Constellation of Literature Pavilion which is considered as the face of the temple.  Photos of it are in postcards, even thumbnails and if one says “Temple of Literature”, this image instantly comes into mind.

pavilion temple of literature

The pavilion is intricately designed with an elaborate roof which houses another bronze bell that can be seen through the two circular windows.

pavilion hanoi
Upon entering the third courtyard through the pavilion, the Well of Heavenly Clarity welcomes you.

well hanoi
By the sides of the well are two halls of the Doctors Stelae.

stelae meaningstele meaning
A stele is a monument erected for commemorative purposes like in funerary.  In the case of the Temple of Literature, 116 steles of stone turtles were erected to honor talent and encourage study but only 82 steles remain today.  (See the Legend of the Turtle here)

doctors stelae
We are now in the fourth courtyard after entering the Gate of Great Synthesis.

temple gates hanoi
There is no lawn in this area anymore.  However, there’s a big cemented space leading to the House of Ceremonies.

hanoi temple
Bonsai trees are scattered in the courtyard.  Chinese Bonsai is the art of growing a miniature tree in a small pot which symbolizes “bringing nature close to you”.

temple of literature house of ceremonies
Inside the house is an altar of the disciples of Confucius and other symbolic items.

temple of literature (1)
Now we finally enter the main hall, the Dai Thanh Sanctuary.  This is the most sacred place in the temple where the altar of Confucius and four of his most honored disciples are being worshiped.  (Source:  Wikipedia) Flash photography is not allowed in this holy ground.

altar of confuciusdragon joss sticks

Dragon Joss Sticks Pot Before the Entrance of the Sanctuary

Aside from being a temple of Confucius, the Temple of Literature also serves as a school.  The fifth courtyard houses the Imperial Academy, the first national university of Vietnam.  It was perfect timing when we got there ‘coz a graduation has just finished.  School kids just packed up, bringing their academic robes with them.

imperial academy
Souvenir shops are also found in the fourth courtyard where you can have personalized  scrolls of Han calligraphy.

Entrance fee at Văn Miếu is 30,000 VND which is equivalent to 60 PhP, same as Ngọc Sơn Temple.

Hi to our English friends, Dr. Oliver and girlfriend Anna who walked with us in finding the Temple of Literature with maps in hands! 🙂

hanoi trip
Stay tuned tomorrow for another historical site of Hanoi, the St. Joseph’s Cathedral as we journey into this series only here on The Other Side of Mae!  #tosomtravels

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