Temple of Literature - The First University of Vietnam
La Sinfonía del Rey Hotel & Spa

The Temple of Literature or Temple of Culture is a Temple of Confucious in Hanoi - hosting the Imperial Academy, Vietnam's first national university. The temple was built in 1070 at the time of Emperor. It is one of several temples in Vietnam which is dedicated to Confucious, sages and scholars. The temple is located to the south of the Thang Long Imperial Citadel. The various pavilions, halls, statues and stelae of doctors are places where offering ceremonies, study sessions and the strict exams of the Dai Viet took place. 

The temple is featured on the back of the 100,000 VND banknote. Just before the Vietnamese New Year celebration Tet, calligraphists will assemble outside the temple and write wishes in Chinese characters. The art works are given away as gifts or are used as home decorations for special occasions. The Confucian temple has landscaped courtyards, numerous altars & shrines & an imposing front gate.


The temple was built in 1070 and was reconstructed during the Trần dynasty (1225–1400) and in the subsequent dynasties. For nearly two centuries, despite wars and disasters, the temple has preserved ancient architectural styles of many dynasties as well as precious relics. Major restorations have taken place in 1920, 1954 and 2000.

"In the autumn of the year Canh Tuat, the second year of Than Vu (1070), in the 8th lunar month, during the reign of King Lý Thánh Tông, the Văn Miếu was built. The statues of Confucius, his four best disciples: Yan Hui (Nhan Uyên), Zengzi (Tăng Sâm), Zisi (Tử Tư), and Mencius (Mạnh Tử), as well as the Duke of Zhou (Chu Công), were carved and 72 other statues of Confucian scholars were painted. Ceremonies were dedicated to them in each of the four seasons. The Crown Princes studied here."

In 1076, Vietnam's first university, the "Quốc Tử Giám" or Imperial Academy, was established within the temple during the reign of Lý Nhân Tông 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. The academy at the Hanoi temple lost its prominence and became a school of the Hoài Đức District.

Under the French protectorate, the Văn Miếu - Quốc Tử Giám was registered as a Monument historique in 1906. During the period of 1945–1954, the French demolished parts of the temple to make room for the sick and wounded since the hospitals were full during times of war. Campaigns of restoration were pursued in 1920 and 1947 under the responsibility of École française d'Extrême-Orient (French School of the Far East).

Layout & Architecture

The temple layout is similar to that of the temple at Qufu, Shandong, Confucius' birthplace. It covers an area of over 54000 square metres, including the Văn lake, Giám park and the interior courtyards which are surrounded by a brick wall.In front of the Great Gate are four tall pillars. On either side of the pillars are two stelae commanding horsemen to dismount.

The gate opens onto three pathways which continues through the complex. The centre path was reserved for the monarch and above the center path there is a big bronze bell, The path to the left is for the administrative Mandarins and the path to the right is for military Mandarins. The interior of the site is divided into five courtyards. The first two courtyards are quiet areas with ancient trees and trimmed lawns, where scholars would relax away from the bustle of the outside world.

The bell located above the main gate was used to signify that an important person was coming through and was added to the Văn Miếu in the 19th century. The bell was made out of Bronze and could only be touched by monks. On the bell several patterns can be found including an outline of a phoenix, which represents beauty, and a dragon, which represents power. Both of these symbols are used to represent the Emperor and Queen. A bell can be found in all of the pagodas in Vietnam.

The first courtyard - the Dai Tai gate (Đại Tài Môn) and the Thanh Duc gate (Thành Đức Môn)

The second courtyard - Khue Van pavilion

The third courtyard - Thien Quang well (Thiên Quang Tỉnh)

The fourth courtyard - Dai Thanh gate (Đại Thành Môn)

The fifth courtyard - The imperial academy (Thái Học Vien - Thai Hoc courtyard)

Address: 58 Quốc Tử Giám, Văn Miếu, Đống Đa, Hà Nội 100000

Hours: 8AM - 6PM

Phone: 024 3747 2566

Distance from La Sinfonía del Rey Hotel: 2.1 km - 11 min drive 

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