The Temple of Literature - The first University of Thang Long Capital

Undergo over 1000 years of history, the Temple of Literature still be retained ancient beauty with architectural features of many eras. It is a typical cultural-historical sites and the most important construction of Hanoi capital as well as all country. 

The Temple of Literature was built in 1070 under King Ly Thanh Tong to worship Confucius, Confucian sages and management mandarin (school principal) of Temple of Literature- Chu Van An -religious and moral counselor of Vietnam education. 

Temple of Literature Architecture 

Temple of Literature is located in Hanoi’s South, with total area of 55,027 square meters, includes: Van Lake, Giam Garden, and inner space for worship. Inner space is divided into five areas: the first area from Great Portico to Great Middle gate (Dai Trung gate), the second area is highlight with "Constellation of Literature pavilion" - Khue Van Cac in Vietnamese (a unique structure was built in 1805 with wooden architecture and a symbol of present day Hanoi. The "Constellation of literature pavilion" is built on four white-washed stone stilts. At the top is a red-colored pavilion with two circular windows and an elaborate roof), the third area is a place to store doctoral headstone built from 1484, the fourth area is used to worship Confucius, 72 plaques of outstanding students of Confucius and Chu Van An (management mandarin), the fifth area is Thai Hoc house, which is the ancient Temple of Literature, considered as Viet Nam’s first national university.
Overview of The Temple of Literature
Overview of The Temple of Literature
The architectural works of the Temple of Literature was built with iron wood, terracotta tiles, curved shoes shape roof tiles according to the art style of Le, Nguyen dynasty and many ancient trees (hundreds of years old trees). In order to honor Viet Nam cultural – educational traditions, Thai Hoc construction was built in 2000 on the site of ancient Imperial Academy (Thai Hoc Duong) with a surface area over 6000 square meters.

Studying in Temple of Literature

The organization of teaching and learning at Imperial Academy started in 1076 under Ly dynasty, developed and perfected under Le Dynasty, XV century. The academy was headed by a rector ("Te tuu") and a vice-rector ("Tu nghiep"). The professors of the academy held different titles: "Giao thu", "Truc giang", "Tro giao" and "Bac si".
Students are mainly those who passed “Huong” exam, through an examination in “Bo Le” to entrance Imperial Academy to study for preparing next exams: “Hoi” exam and “Dinh” exam. Students were divided into three classes: Upper, Middle and Lower. Minimum learning period of time was 3 years and maximum was 7 years. Main learning process included listening lectures, commenting and writing literature.

Candidates 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", students took part in the exam which was held at Royal Palace – the “Dinh” exam, questioned and finally marked by the King himself. Those who passed “Dinh” exam was classified into three classes: The First Dr (Poinsettias – “Trang nguyen, First-rank doctorate second laureate – “Bang nhan”, First-rank doctorate third laureate – “Tham hoa”), The Second Dr (“Hoang Giap”) and The Third Dr (PhD).
The holy turtles in The Temple of Litarature
The holy turtles in The Temple of Litarature

Examination history in Vietnam started from 1075 until last Confucian examinations in 1919, total 2,898 people passed great faculty - “Dai Khoa”. The fewest passed students faculty had 3 people, the highest passed students faculty had 62 people. The youngest passed student was Poinsettias Nguyen Hien (examination in 1247) at age of 13, the oldest passed student was Dr. Quach Dong Dan (examination in 1634) at 68 years old.

Doctorate Headstone 

One of the famous monuments of Temple of Literature is 82 Doctorate Headstones writing name, hometown of 1307 Doctorates from examination in 1442 to 1779, consisting of 81 faculties under Le dynasty and 1 faculty under Mac dynasty. Doctorate Headstones were carved on blue stones with unequal size and engraved delicate pattern. 

More attrations in Hanoi

Doctorate Headstone in Nham Tuat faculty under 3rd Bao Dai indicated clearly the importance of the training of talents and encouraging students: “Talented people are the power of our country. The power is prosperous making powerful nation, the power is weakened leading lower nation situation. So Kings always considers choosing intelligent people and fostering talents as urgent work. Therefore, building headstones at the entrance of “Thai Hoc” is the way to incentive people across country to study, practice and be enthusiastic to help country. This building headstones is not just nominal prefer”.

Doctorate Headstone is located on the back of turtles. Turtle is one of four mascots: “Long”, “Ly”, “Qui”, “Phung”. Turtle has long life, strong healthy, so putting Doctorate headstone on the back of turtles has shown the respect talented people and lasted forever.

Temple of Literature at present

Temple of Literature monument has survived more than 900 years, rated cultural historical monument from 1962. On April 1988, Culture - Science Activity Center of Temple of Literature was established with the task of managing, preserving, planning, remodeling and embellishing the relic to serve visitors to sightseeing and research. At the same time, Temple of Literature is a place for scientists to meet, exchange and discuss knowledge in order to mobilize the intellectual force in the country.

Every year, there are a lot of cultural and festival activities happened at Temple of Literature such as: incense offering to the sages, people chess playing, Folklore, poetry commenting, calligraphy exhibition, spring poetry introduction, etc.
Vietnamese students often keep their last memories of student life at The Temple of Literature
Vietnamese students often keep their last memories of student life at The Temple of Literature
In 1997, the “Dinh Suu” Lunar New Year, the first Tet Vietnam implemented banning fireworks, Temple of Literature was honored to be used the drums sound to signal the countdown. It has been also the venue starting up Thang Long drums kit and performed the opening ceremony of Thang Long drums program at the time of transition among the millennium New Year 2000.

In the next plan, Temple of Literature is being gradually piloted cultural programs with bold ethnic groups as holding the club "Thang Long Poetry Forum", club "People's teacher and excellence teacher," building "Museum of Hanoi celebrities".

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