Temple of Literature

Mike and I went to the Temple of Literature here in Ha Noi a few days ago.
It’s a temple dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars and was originally built in 1070. It is also the site of Viet Nam’s first university. Studies, ceremonies and exams were conducted in and around the various buildings. I was a bit confused, honestly, when I entered the grounds. I guess I imagined there’d be one building or one temple, but it had an almost park-like atmosphere with a scattering of structures….beautiful structures, of course.

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Upon entering the grounds, we were struck by the massive size of this banyan tree…..



…..and its root system…..

A 2….enormous.

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Here is the first building you come to.  It is one of the temples wherein scholars would study and find peace and quiet from the outside world (I can’t imagine that the outside world was remotely as noisy as Ha Noi is today!).

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To the right is the roof cap (double click to see it fully).

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There are a number of walled courtyards.  Here is one of the gates through which you pass to enter the next…..


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…..where you’ll see this →

The Constellation of Literature Pavilion. This was built much later in 1805 and is the current symbol of the city of Ha Noi.  It is also pictured on the back of the 100,000Ð bank note.

A 12Passing through to the next courtyard, you see this ~ The Stelae of Doctors and Scholars.  A stelae (I had to look this up ~ never heard of a stelae before!) is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes.  Here are a few more pics of this area.  I found it very beautiful and peaceful.

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All the stelae had turtles at the  bottom.  I don’t know what the significance of this is…..if anyone finds out, please let me know!

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Still obsessed with the roofs……

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…..and the ceramics.  There were ponds all around and many were surrounded by walls built with these ceramic tiles.

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You pass through another beautiful gateway →



…and enter into this huge courtyard.

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This is the “House of Ceremonies.”  ↑

In it was this ginormous bronze bird standing on a poor little turtle…..

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…….and here is a fellow traveler who entertained us while we stopped for a rest.

At the time, we thought this was the last stop, so we left.  When I got home, I started looking up the Temple of Literature online, so I could share some information about it with you……and realized that we’d missed one of the biggest buildings!  I was really surprised, to say the least.  So, I went back a couple days later and found my way to the rest of the site.  I could see why we’d missed it.  It’s behind the last building I showed you and the pathway to it isn’t marked or very obvious at all.  But anyway, here’s the rest of the ‘tour’!

B 2As you can see, there aren’t a lot of other people here…..they apparently couldn’t find it, either!  When I first saw it, I didn’t think it looked as old as the other buildings on the grounds…..and it isn’t.  The original was destroyed by the French in 1946.  This was reconstructed in 2000 in the same style as the other structures.  It was originally called the Imperial Academy wherein most of the studies were conducted.

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Inside there was live music!


The woman on the left is playing (beautifully) a bamboo xylophone.  The woman on the right is playing….an air xylophone…..I’m not sure what else to call it.  She clapped her hands at one opening of a row of bamboo and the air from her hands made a tone as it flowed through the bamboo.  It was pretty astounding, really.

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Up a wooden staircase and looking out from upstairs, there was a nice view of the rooflines….

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On either side of the building are this bell and drum.  The bell is a little over 6 feet tall and was cast in 2000…..they certainly haven’t lost their touch.


The drum is about 6 feet in diameter and weighs over 1,500 pounds!


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So, back to pictures from our first visit ….a tranquil little scene.

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The water in the ponds was very low and rather green, but I liked the various textures and colors of the pond walls.


A 22          Mike noticed this bat on one of the entrance walls.  Neither of us has seen bat motifs here and we thought it very interesting.

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This is actually the back side of the entrance, which I thought was more intriguing than the front which was draped with banners of all sorts.

A 24…..and there ya have it ~ The Temple of Literature ~ Ha Noi, Viet Nam.

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