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Dec 8, 2014


The very first stop-over of any foreign tourist in Hanoi is always Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam (translated as Temple of Literature), which reveals the Hanoians’ spirit of study in the past! 
Situated at the south of Thang Long citadel, is on top of the historical and beautiful sightseeings of the beautiful capital of Vietnam. Please follow us in a brief tour of exploring his beauty and deep values;

Historical meaning

Tourists, particularly the foreign ones, now flock to the site for taking a look into its profound traditional meanings of both a Confucion temple and the first university of Vietnam. Văn Miếu or Temple of Literature, known as "pagode des Corbeaux" during the period of French colonisation, was founded as a Confucian temple in 1070.
Khue Van Cac (Khue Van pavilion - Symbol of Hanoi capital)
Only parts of the Văn Miếu complex date back to the earliest period, although much of the architecture dates to the Ly (1010 – 1225) and Tran (1225 – 1400) Dynasties. In 1076, Vietnam's first university, the Quốc Tử Giám (or National University), was established within this temple to educate Vietnam's mandarin class. The university functioned for more than 700 years, from 1076 to 1779, during which, 2,313 doctors graduated. Hence, the complex has been attached to the name of Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam up to now.
Entrance of Van Mieu (04 poles)
A beauty-spot of architectural values

This ancient Confucian sanctuary is now considered one of Hanoi's finest historical and cultural sites. “The ever special architetural style of Van Mieu dates back to the 11th century, evoking an inspiration of classical creativeness of many of us”, one of my tourists remarked. Just take a look into the art of architecture, you will share the feeling! The temple is based on Confucius' birthplace at Qufu in the Chinese province of Shandong. 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 through the length of the complex. The centre path was reserved for the King only, the one to its left for administrative Mandarins and the one to its right for military Mandarins.
Second section in Van Mieu
The first two courtyards are peaceful havens of ancient trees and well-trimmed lawns where the scholars could relax away from the bustle of the city outside the thick stone walls. Entrance to the third courtyard is through the dominating Khue Van Cac (constellation of literature), a large pavilion built in 1802. Central to the this courtyard is the Thien Quang Tinh ("Well Of Heavenly Clarity"), either side of which stand two great halls which house the true treasures of the temple. These are 82 stone steles. Another 34 are believed to have been lost over the years. They sit upon stone tortoises and are inscribed with the names and birth places of 1306 men who were awarded doctorates from the triennial examinations held here at the Quoc Tu Giam ("National University") between 1484 and 1780, when the capital was moved to Hue.

The fourth courtyard is bordered on either side by great pavilions which once contained altersl of 72 of Confucius greatest students but which now contain offices, a gift shop and a small museum which contains ink wells, pens, books and personal artifacts belonging to some of the students that have studied here through the years. At the far end of the courtyard is the altar with statues of Confucius and his four closest disciples. The fifth courtyard contained the Quoc Tu Giam, Vietnam's first university founded in 1076 King Ly Can Duc, but this was destroyed by French bombing in 1947.

Though having gone through lots of restoration work, the temple still retains its very first original shape, to be one of the visit-worthy sightseeings of Hanoi, captivating to a huge number of tourists elsewhere. 
A space of peace, green trees and solemnity covers the whole temple of historical and traditional love for study, making tourists feel like they were lost in a land of Confucion and traditional values. If you are in Hanoi, you should really come and explore it yourself!
Being an ancient school of Thang Long and the first university in Vietnam, Temple of Literature is acknowledged as an ancient historical-cultural heritage which gives tourists deeper understanding about Hanoi's years of culture and tradition. Tourists should definitely add the Temple of Literature to their visiting list in Hanoi. It is included in a lot of Hanoi city tours as one of the main attractions in this bustling capital city. Coming here, tourists might see many Vietnamese students visiting the places as a ritual for good luck before they enter an important exam such as the entrance exam into college. 


Stone steles in Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam include 82 steles which record the royal examinations of Le and Mac dynasties (1442-1779). All steles are put on stone tortoises’ back to represent everlasting national quintessence and reflect historical and cultural values of Vietnam through 300 years.
In 1484, King Le Thanh Tong gave an order to erect the first 10 steles for the royal examinations held in 1442, 1448, 1463, 1466, 1469, 1472, 1475, 1478, 1481 and 1484 under Le So Dynasty. However, now only 7 steles remain. In next years, Le So Dynasty had 5 steles erected for the royal examinations held in 1487, 1496, 1502, 1511 and 1514. Under Mac Dynasty, only 2 steles were erected for the royal examinations held in 1518 (under Le So Dynasty) and 1529 because of civil war.
Tourist visit Van Mieu
 Under Le Trung Hung Dynasty, the royal examinations were restored and hold regularly. In 1653, Le Trung Hung Dynasty had the most number of steles erected in Temple of Literature with 25 steles for the royal examinations held between 1554 and 1652. Then in 1717, 21 steles were erected for the royal examinations held between 1656 and 1712. With two large courses of stele erection and next regular stele erections, Le Trung Hung Dynasty had most steles erected in Temple of Literature (68/82).
Under Tay Son (1788 - 1802) and Nguyen (1802 - 1945) dynasties, capital city was removed to Phu Xuan – Hue and steles were not erected in Van Mieu (Hanoi) any more. Nguyen Dynasty gave an order to erect steles in Van Mieu (Hue) from the royal examination held in 1822.

All the 82 steles are of the same model: the slab is flat with an arched pediment and tortoise-shaped base; the tortoise is rather big and looks strong; the steles are of different sizes. The steles are also unique in terms of their construction: stone was carefully selected, designed, decorated, and engraved with texts. This work must have required extraordinary patience and skill as it was done entirely by hand.
The 82 steles in Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam are unique ones in the world which have inscriptions. Their inscriptions record not only the names of the laureates of royal examinations held through nearly 300 years (1442 – 1779) but also information on history of the royal examinations; the successive dynasties’ conceptions of education, training and employing talent and their philosophy of state governance. Therefore the steles had a great social impact on education and training of talented citizens, encouraged contemporary people and people of the following generations in education. The inscriptions also contain such details as the date of the stele’s erection and the names and official posts of the inscription compilers, revisers, calligraphers, and engravers. It affirms that the steles are original, authentic and unique. Each stele is a true work of art as they are the results of master mind and hands of the best scholars, engravers and calligraphers over times. They are of great significance to the study of ancient documents in Chinese as the texts were written in Chinese characters, but read in Vietnamese way of pronunciation, so they can serve as references for those who study the former Vietnamese languages. Furthermore, these steles furnish valuable information about Vietnamese emissaries that would contribute to the study of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and other Northeast Asian countries. Among the 1304 doctoral laureates whose names are recorded on the steles, 225 were once assigned diplomatic missions to China under Ming and Qing dynasties. Using the steles as reliable documents, Vietnamese and foreign scholars can study the history, education and culture of Vietnam in the past, and young generations can absorb the traditions and values left by their ancestors.

Moreover, each stele is itself a vivid work of art with various designs: flowers, leaves, clouds, the moon; or the dragon, holy lion, tortoise and phoenix. Steles of each historic period are distinct from those of other periods. Distinctive features such as designs, decorative patterns, tortoise-shaped bases, and the type of Chinese characters used for their inscriptions preserve the steles’ originality and prevent attempts to produce replicas. Many art researchers consider the steles as important documents to study Vietnamese history of art and sculpture from the 15th to the 18th centuries.

At present, the 82 steles in Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam are still unique ones preserved constantly on the spot since they were erected. The inscriptions on all the steles are, in general, readable. The irreplaceability and rarity lie in the content of the steles, the mode and condition of their establishment, their historical and artistic value, and their social impact. They are lively evidence of the intellect, aptitude and dexterity of the Vietnamese people.

On March 9, 2010 in Macau, China, the Asia-Pacific Regional Committee of Memory of the World recognized 82 steles which record the royal examinations of Le and Mac dynasties in Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam as world documentary heritage in the Memory of the World Program of UNESCO.

Tour recommend:

- HANOI CITY TOUR: (half-day/ full-day): Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex, The Temple of Literature, Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake and stroll the through the irresistible chaos of the Old Quarter. The narrow “36 streets” are home to countless small shopkeepers and provide plenty of photo opportunities!

- HANOI CITY TOUR: (Discover traditional villages around: Bat Trang Ceramic, Van Phuc Silk, Quat Dong Hand Embroidery...

- HANOI CITY TOUR: (Duong Lam Ancient Village): Duong Lam Ancient Village has a history of about 1,200 years with many houses dating back up to 400 years. It takes one and a half hours to drive to the village (60 km). Upon arrival take a walk through the narrow alleys and visit Mong Phu Village Gate, one of the five communal houses and an ancient house. The buildings are made from laterite and mud and give the village a unique charm. Have lunch at an ancient house.

- HANOI - PERFUME PAGODA: The Perfume Pagoda, Chùa Hương in Vietnamese, is a vast complex of pagodas and Buddhist shrines built into the Huong Tich Mountain. A world apart from busy Hanoi, this is an ideal day trip if you wish to enjoy natural surroundings and explore this famous Vietnamese pilgrimage site...

Your could find more useful information by these key words: Vietnam travel experiences, Vietnam Travel Tips, Vietnam Travel Information, Vietnam Tourism Potentials, Vietnam Travel Guide, Vietnam Ethnic Minority, Vietnam Travel Advices, Vietnamese People, Vietnamese Daily Life, Highlight Tours, Vietnam World Heritage...

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