Lost in a land of Confucianism


Whenever I visit Hanoi, the first place I think of is the Temple of Literature, where the tree-shaded grounds and the buildings tell of the times that scholars studied there. The temple makes me reflect on my country’s history and I get lost in a land of Confucianism and traditional values.

Situated on Van Mieu Street, about two kilometers from Hoan Kiem Lake, the temple is on top of the list for historical sightseeing in Hanoi.

I love the temple as I love the nation’s history. So I know that in 1070, King Ly Thanh Tong built several important monuments, one of which was Van Mieu (the Temple of Literature). The organization of instruction and learning at the Quoc Tu Giam (National University) began in 1076 under the Ly dynasty and further developed in the 15th century under the Le dynasty. The university was established near the Temple of Literature, and during its more than 700 years of instruction (1076-1779), thousands of talented men in Vietnam were educated there. And hence the name of Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam was born.

I have visited the temple many times, but I always enjoy looking at the ways it has been repaired and renovated in its 900 years. It is an example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture. The cultural relics include steles with inscriptions of the names of distinguished scholars, the Well of Heavenly Clarity (Thien Quang Tinh), the pavilion in dedication of the Constellation of Literature (Khue Van Cac), the statue of Confucius, the Great House of Ceremonies, the ancient wall, the old trees and the sanctuary, the stone dragons, and ink stone stands.

The history of the temple and how it has survived in such good condition to on Monday give me a sense of national pride.

A tourist at the gate of the Temple of Literature in Hanoi – Photo: Dang Khoa

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