Temple Of Literature Hanoi Vietnam: History, Architecture & Tips

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Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature and Imperial Academy) is a precious historical relic in Hanoi, Vietnam. The complex offers a rich and diverse look into the history and culture of Vietnam since the 10th century.

We visited Hanoi not long ago and spent a lovely afternoon exploring this place. Here is our brief guide to the Temple of Literature’s history, architecture, and travel tips.

Temple of Literature Hanoi map
Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam is a beautiful historic complex in Hanoi.


The history of Temple of Literature 

Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam consists of two main areas: Temple of Literature and Imperial Academy. 

The Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) was built in August 1070 under the reign of King Ly Thanh Tong and dedicated to Confucius and famous scholars.

Meanwhile, in 1076, King Ly Nhan Tong built the Imperial Academy (Quoc Tu Giam) dedicated to the king’s children and noble families. It was considered the oldest university in Vietnam, symbolizing the tradition of studiousness of the Vietnamese nation.

In 1253 under King Tran Thai Tong, the Imperial Academy was expanded and accepted even the children of commoners who had outstanding academic abilities.

In 1484, King Le Thanh Tong organized an exam here and set up steles for those who passed the doctorate exam.

Under the Nguyen Dynasty, another Imperial Academy was built in Hue when they moved the capital there. Since then the Temple of Literature was repaired, restored, and has been preserved to this day.

Temple Of Literature Hanoi Vietnam
Considered the first university of Vietnam, the Temple of Literature is a famous historical relic of Hanoi and offers the cultural quintessence values of different periods.


The architecture

The Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam relic complex is currently located in an area of more than 54000 square meters, including many different small architectural works.

The entire relic is separated from the outside space by malleable bricks. And the inside is divided into 5 layers of space, with each layer has different architectural works.

After many renovations, this relic complex includes Ho Van, Van Mieu Gate, Dai Trung Mon, Khue Van Pavilion, Thien Quang well, Doctor stele, Dai Thanh Mon, and Thai Hoc house.

Temple of Literature map


Things to see at the Temple of Literature

After more than 10 centuries, Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam still retains its ancient appearance with many high-value architectural works.

The complex is divided into 5 zones, and each area has separating walls and a gate. 

Van Mieu Mon (Van Mieu Gate)

Our trip started at Van Mieu Gate, a two-story gate architecture with 3 doors. The upper floor has three letters that indicate the name “Van Mieu Mon” in ancient Chinese characters.

Temple Of Literature gate Hanoi Vietnam

Dai Trung Mon (Great middle gate)

After Van Mieu gate, we headed to Dai Trung Mon, the second gate of the Temple of Literature.

This gate consists of 3 compartments built on a high brick foundation and roof tiles in the style of ancient communal houses.

Before and after Dai Trung Mon is a spacious area with trees and small parallel roads creating a sense of depth, elegance, and quietness. 

Dai Trung Mon Van Mieu Hanoi Vietnam

Khue Van Cac (Khue Van pavilion)

The second area features the Khue Van pavilion – an architectural work constructed in 1805 during Nguyen Dynasty. The pavilion has 2 floors, with the attic is built on a square platform with a width of 6.8 meters each. 

Its wooden architecture has red tile roofs overlapping two layers above, forming a very special 8-roof construction. Also, the four sides of the attic wall have round windows representing the images of the shining star.

Khue Van Pavilion was where Confucian scholars gather to comment on the literary works of the students.

With unique architecture and symbolic meaning for Vietnamese literature and education, the pavilion was chosen as the symbol of Hanoi city.

KKhue Van Cac Temple Of Literature Hanoi Vietnam
The architecture of Khue Van Cac is very unique with sophisticated patterns.

Thien Quang Well and Doctor stele

After Khue Van Pavilion, we visited Thien Van Well. 

On both sides of the well are two rows of large stone steles about the examinations from 1442 to 1779.

Temple Of Literature lake Hanoi Vietnam

Each stele is a unique work of art and has great spiritual significance. Specifically, 82 doctorate steles on the backs of the greenstone turtles recognize and honor the 82 valedictorians in the examinations of Vietnam’s feudal dynasties.

Also, on each stele, you can see the information of the doctor who passed the exam that year. There is information about the exam, the dynasty, and the philosophy of the education of that period.

Stele Van Mieu Hanoi Vietnam

Dai Thanh Mon (Gate of Success) and the Shrine area

Stepping through Dai Thanh Mon, we came to a vast courtyard paved with Bat Trang tiles leading to the center area of ​​Quoc Tu Giam relic. 

Here, we saw the shrine area – Dai Bai Duong, where houses the Hall of Ceremonies and the Sanctuary to Confucious.

Van Mieu shrine Hanoi Vietnam
The main shrine of Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam.

Temple Of Literature shrine Hanoi Vietnam

Temple Of Literature decoration Hanoi Vietnam
We spot some decorations in the yard.

Thai Hoc Hall

In the fifth courtyard, we explored the Thai Hoc hall and the classrooms. There are altars honoring famous professors on the ground floor and ancient kings on the upper floor.

Imperial Academy Hanoi Vietnam
View from the upper floor of Thai Hoc Hall – The Imperial Academy.

Wandering outside the Hall, we found the drum on the left of the building and the Bich Ung bell on the right. They both present the solemnity and majesty of the complex.

Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam Hanoi Vietnam


Opening hours, ticket prices to the Temple of Literature

The Temple of Literature is open every day of the week, including weekends or holidays. Its opening time is 7:30 am in winter, 8 am in other seasons and closing time is 6 pm.

The ticket price to visit the Temple of Literature is 20,000 VND / adult and 10,000 VND per child. 

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Temple Of Literature Hanoi Vietnam

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