MangoVine
Adventures in East Asia

Temple of Literature - The Oldest School in Vietnam

In contrast to the Quan Thanh Temple, Van Mieu or the Temple of Literature as its also known, is a massive place that consists of five courtyards lined out in order, with the first courtyard leading to three pathways that run the length of the complex.

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Van Mieu is a temple of Confucius in Vietnam and the site we visited in Hanoi is the most prominent and is now considered as one of Hanoi's finest historical sites. It also functioned as Vietnam's first university making it the oldest school in Vietnam.

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In the third courtyard of the temple, there is a collection of eighty two stone stelae which rest upon large stone tortoises. They're engraved with the names, places of birth and achievements of doctor laureates that received their degrees between 1484 and 1780. Current students now walk along and touch the heads of the tortoises for luck in their own examinations.

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We came across a photo shoot taking place with a couple dressed elaborately in what looks like traditional Vietnamese costume. At first, I only saw the woman and thought it was a fashion shoot before I realised it was for a wedding.

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It's quite common to go out and about in Vietnam's cultural sites and see couples having their photos done like this. Apparently, photos are taken and prepared weeks before the wedding event itself and this was the first of at least five times that I'd witness similar shoots. Compared to the west, its relatively cheap to commission the whole process and friends of mine have returned from Vietnam with elaborate albums and supersized prints of their "day".

The Temple of Literature has a number of features with the large drum and bell being two of our favourite. They're on opposite sides of the last courtyard and I would have loved to have given them a good ring or thump.

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Some amazing long-legged, bronze birds (storks?) also caught my eye together with this distinctive dragon incense urn.

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View more photos of Van Mieu - The Temple of Literature in Hanoi in my Flickr set.

Find out more about the Temple of Literature on Wikipedia.


This entry posted in : History. Tourism. Vietnam.

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