Temple of Literature (Van Mieu)
Tortoise at the Temple of Literature © smadden
The Temple of Literature is Vietnam's historical seat of learning and is the most sacred place for the disciples of Confucius. It is one of the few remaining buildings from the original city founded by Emperor Ly Thanth Tong in the 11th century and is a well-preserved example of Vietnamese architecture. It became the site of the country's first university in 1076. Consisting of a complex of small buildings and five walled courtyards, it was an exclusive establishment teaching the principles of Confucius. Over a period of 900 years thousands of Vietnamese scholars graduated from the university. In the third courtyard is a pond, the Well of Heavenly Clarity, and beside it are 82 stone stelae, mounted on tortoises and engraved with the names of successful graduates. There is also a temple dedicated to Confucius and an altar where the king and his mandarins would make sacrifices.
Address: Pho Van Mieu, corner of Pho Quoc Tu Giam
Telephone: (04) 942 1061
Opening times: Open daily from 7.30am to 6pm (summer), and 8am to 5pm (winter)
Admission: Varying costs for English-speaking guides