Vietnam Temple of Literature

20 images 1 contributors Shoot with care

Sue Wolfe

Shoot with care
No tank-tops or short skirts allowed. Hats should be removed in the sanctuary area.

They ask that you do not laugh or talk too loud in the worship area.

About this spot
The Temple of Literature was built in 1070 under the reign of King Ly Thánh Tông and was dedicated to Confucius and other famous scholars. He also built on the site the Imperial Academy, the first national university to educate Vietnam’s royalty and nobles. Later in 1253, the Academy was expanded to include children of civilians who had outstanding academic abilities.

Students focused on literature and poetry and learned Chinese language, philosophy, and history. Children enrolled for three to seven years. They had regular tests and when they qualified to sit for the royal exam, the King himself posed the questions and ranked those who passed into different grades.

In 1484, Emperor Lê Thánh Tông ordered 116 stelae be erected to honor talent and encourage study. Today, 82 remain atop the turtle statues. The turtle is one of the nation’s four holy creatures and is a symbol of longevity and wisdom. The Temple’s altars are popular with students praying for good grades, and the courtyards are often used as backdrops for graduation photos.

The temple covers 54,000 square meters (580,000 sq. ft.) and includes Van Lake, Giám Park and the five interior courtyards which are surrounded by a brick wall. The first two courtyards are shady and quiet. The third one contains a large pond known as the Well of Heavenly Clarity. The fourth hosts the House of Ceremonies and the last one holds several structures including a bell tower and drum.

After almost 1000 years, through multiple wars and restorations, the Temple of Literature has retained its original architectural style.

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