Majestically lied on the bank of Perfume River, the temple of literature Hue is one of the most famous tourist attractions there. It’s also the place to honor the mandarins of Confucianism in Vietnam in the past.
The Temple of Literature is a worship temple founded by the Nguyen Dynasty and dedicated to scholars of Confucianism.
In 1808, Gia Long and his imperial Court decided to choose a low hill beyond the Thien Mu Pagoda, on the left bank of the Perfume River (its present location) to build a new imposing and striking Temple of Literature. The construction of the Temple of Literature started on 17 April 1808 and ended on 12 November 1808.
The Temple of Literature faces south. The main constructions were built on the top of the hill, three meters higher than the surrounding land, on a square surface of 160m long, and enclosed by La Thanh surrounding wall. There was once a complex of 50 big and small constructions including 32 steles that bore names of doctors, as well as four other steles.
The Temple of Literature was renovated many times and several additional constructions were built, especially under Minh Mang and Thieu Tri’s reign. From Minh Mang’s reign onwards, National Examinations were held and steles bearing the names of successful candidates were erected there. These steles bear the names, ages and places of birth of 239 successful candidates in National Examinations organized through the Nguyen Dynasty. The Temple of Literature of Hue is a valuable historic heritage showing the tradition of knowledge appreciation, scholars’ administration and study encouragement of the Vietnamese culture.
What to explore
Visitors enter the temple and learn about different forms of Buddhism.
Visiting Van Mieu will visitors learn more about popular traditional cultural resources, respect and encourage intellectual and studious of Vietnam’s ancient ancestors.
Visitors not only enjoy the ancient Van Mieu, but also see the beauty of Huong river by boat.
Outside at the main gate of the Temple, by the riverside, there are four tall and majestic pillars. There are a large sign hung high above, with the words “Dao Tai Luong Gian” (The principles in the world) and “Trac Viet Thien Co” (Higher than ever before) written. After going past the gate, we would see several small houses where kings and mandarins would stop by to prepare their outfits before going inside to attend the ceremony. At the front there are two rows of 32 preserved steles bearing the names of 239 successful candidates in National Examinations organized through the Nguyen Dynasty. Although the monument has been damaged during the war as French troops once used it as barrack, main temple and especially the steles still remain.
Today, people visitting the Temple of Literature can see a unique symbol of Vietnam educational system during the feudal times. The construction of the temple as well as the placement of the doctors’ steles shows everlasting respect to the country’s talented people and invaluable traditions of culture and education.
How to get there
The easiest way to get to the Temple of Literature is by vehicle, as most group boat tours along the Perfume River don’t stop there. One can easily rent a motorbike anywhere for a few bucks a day. From the Citadel, head west on Kim Long. It is just around 700 m past Thien Mu Pagoda. If you’re going on a private tour by vehicle, Thien Mu Pagoda is most likely on the itinerary; just tell your guide to drive a little further up the road.
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