Temple of Literature

A Journey into Vietnam’s Intellectual Legacy

Welcome to the Temple of Literature, a revered cultural and historical landmark located in the heart of Hanoi, Vietnam. As the country’s first national university, this magnificent complex holds great significance as a testament to Vietnam’s intellectual heritage and the pursuit of knowledge. Join us as we explore the Temple of Literature and uncover its rich history, architectural splendor, and serene ambiance.

Historical Significance:

The Temple of Literature, also known as Van Mieu, was established in 1070 during the reign of Emperor Ly Thanh Tong. Initially built as a Confucian temple to honor Confucius, sages, and scholars, it later became Vietnam’s first national university. For over 700 years, this prestigious institution played a crucial role in educating the country’s elite and shaping Vietnamese society.

The Five Courtyards:

As you step into the Temple of Literature, you’ll be greeted by a series of five courtyards, each with its own distinct features and symbolic significance. The First Courtyard is marked by the Great Middle Gate, leading to the Well of Heavenly Clarity, where students traditionally came to wash their brushes before taking exams.

Passing through the Second Courtyard, you’ll encounter the Khue Van Pavilion, an elegant structure that houses a stone stelae mounted on the back of a stone turtle. These stelae bear the names of exceptional scholars who achieved the highest academic honors in the national examinations. The Third Courtyard is home to the Thien Quang Well, believed to have sacred water that granted wisdom and success to those who drank from it.

The Fourth Courtyard is the heart of the complex, showcasing the main structures, including the House of Ceremonies and the Drum and Bell Towers. The final Fifth Courtyard is dedicated to the study halls, where students once gathered to prepare for their examinations. The courtyards and structures of the Temple of Literature provide a captivating glimpse into the educational traditions and scholarly pursuits of ancient Vietnam.

The Well of Heavenly Clarity:

A significant highlight of the Temple of Literature is the Well of Heavenly Clarity (Thien Quang Tinh). Surrounded by a tranquil courtyard, this well symbolizes purity and enlightenment. According to legend, if students washed their brushes with water from the well, they would gain divine inspiration and perform well in their exams. Today, visitors can still witness this ancient tradition, as calligraphers offer their services to write meaningful phrases or poems using brushes dipped in water from the well.

The Pavilion of the Constellation of Literature:

At the heart of the Temple of Literature, you’ll find the Pavilion of the Constellation of Literature (Khue Van Cac). This iconic structure, with its distinctive red roof and intricate woodwork, is considered a symbol of Hanoi and often featured in postcards and paintings. Serving as a symbol of knowledge and scholarship, the pavilion offers a stunning backdrop for photos and a serene spot for contemplation.

The Statue of Confucius:

Within the Temple of Literature complex stands a statue of Confucius, the revered Chinese philosopher and educator. The statue, adorned with traditional garments and holding a book, embodies wisdom, virtue, and the pursuit of knowledge. It serves as a reminder of the Confucian principles that shaped the educational system of ancient Vietnam and continues to hold cultural significance to this day.

Tranquility and Reflection:

The Temple of Literature not only showcases remarkable architecture and historical artifacts but also offers a peaceful sanctuary amidst the bustling city. As you meander through the courtyards, take a moment to appreciate the serene ambiance, beautifully manicured gardens, and traditional architecture that transport you to a bygone era.

Visiting during quieter times, such as early mornings or weekdays, allows for a more intimate experience and a chance to reflect on the legacy of knowledge and learning. Explore the shaded walkways, find a quiet corner to sit, and soak in the tranquility that permeates the temple grounds.


The Temple of Literature stands as a testament to Vietnam’s rich intellectual legacy and serves as a gateway to the country’s cultural heritage. From its historical significance as Vietnam’s first national university to its stunning architectural features and serene ambiance, this iconic landmark offers a captivating journey into the past.

Immerse yourself in the timeless beauty of the courtyards, marvel at the Pavilion of the Constellation of Literature, and find solace amidst the peaceful surroundings. The Temple of Literature is not only a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and scholars but also a place of inspiration and reflection for all who seek to connect with the profound legacy of knowledge and wisdom that continues to shape Vietnam’s identity.

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Frequently asked questions

Some of the must-visit destinations in Vietnam include Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Hue, Nha Trang, Da Nang, Sapa, Mekong Delta, and Phu Quoc Island.

The number of days you should spend in Vietnam depends on the destinations you want to visit and the activities you plan to do. A minimum of 7-10 days is recommended to explore the major highlights of the country, but if you have more time, you can easily spend 2-3 weeks or even longer to fully experience all that Vietnam has to offer.

The best time to visit Vietnam is generally during the spring (February to April) and autumn (August to October) seasons when the weather is mild and pleasant. However, Vietnam is a diverse country with varying climates, so the best time to visit certain regions may differ. It's advisable to check the weather conditions for specific destinations before planning your trip.

Yes, most visitors to Vietnam require a visa. However, there are some exceptions for citizens of certain countries who can enjoy visa-free entry for a limited duration. It's recommended to check with the Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your country or consult a travel agent to determine the visa requirements based on your nationality.

When visiting Vietnam, it's important to respect the local customs and cultural norms. Some general etiquettes to keep in mind include dressing modestly, especially when visiting temples or religious sites, removing your shoes before entering someone's home or certain establishments, greeting locals with a smile and a slight bow, and avoiding public displays of affection. It's also polite to ask for permission before taking photos of individuals, especially in rural areas.

Vietnam is generally a safe country for tourists. However, like any travel destination, it's important to exercise common sense and take necessary precautions. Keep an eye on your belongings, be cautious of your surroundings, and use reputable transportation and accommodation services. It's also advisable to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and trip cancellations.

Vietnam has a well-developed transportation system that includes domestic flights, trains, buses, taxis, and motorbike rentals. Domestic flights are the fastest way to travel between major cities, while trains and buses offer more affordable options for long-distance travel. Taxis and ride-hailing services like Grab are popular for shorter journeys, and renting a motorbike is a common choice for exploring cities and rural areas.

The official currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). While cash is widely used, credit cards are accepted in many hotels, restaurants, and larger establishments in major cities. It's advisable to carry some cash for smaller transactions and in more remote areas where credit card acceptance may be limited.

Vietnam offers a wide range of unique experiences and activities. Some recommendations include cruising through the stunning limestone formations of Ha Long Bay, exploring the ancient town of Hoi An with its lantern-lit streets, trekking through the terraced rice fields of Sapa, taking a boat tour in the Mekong Delta to experience the floating markets, learning to cook traditional Vietnamese dishes in a cooking class, and participating in a homestay to experience the local way of life.

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