The Temple of Literature (known as Văn Miếu-Quốc Tử Giám in Vietnamese) is a Temple of Confuciusin Hanoi, northern Vietnam.The temple hosts the “Imperial Academy” (Quốc Tử Giám), Vietnam’s first National University. The temple was built in 1070 at the time of King Lý Nhân Tông. It is one of several temples in Vietnam which is dedicated to Confucius and scholars. The temple is located to the south of the Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long. The various pavilions, halls, statues and stelae of doctors are places offering ceremonies, study sessions and the strict exams of the Đại Việt took place. The temple is featured on the back of the 100,000 Vietnamese đồng banknote.Just before the Vietnamese New Year celebration Tết, calligraphists will concentrate outside the temple and write wishes in Hán characters. The art works are given away as gifts or are used as home decorations for special occasions.
It has been considered as the eternal symbol of the educational, cultural elite and the traditional recpect for his seniors. It was also the place that thousands of the national talents had been educated in the feudatory period.
Many students lived and studied at the Temple. Most students (“giam sinh“) had passed the regional exam (“huong”) before enrolling at the academy. During the course of study at the academy, the students focused on discussion of literature and wrote poetry as well. The students learned Chinese, Chinese philosophy, and Chinese history. They had textbooks printed on paper which were in both Chinese and Vietnamese. They read The Four Books (“The Great Study“, “The Golden Means“, “The Analects” and “Mencius“); Five Pre-Confucian Classics (“Book of Odes“, “Book of Annals“, “Book of Rites“, “Book of Spring and autumn” and “Book of Change“); ancient poetry and Chinese history among others.
The students enrolled for three to seven years. They had minor tests each month and four major tests per year. Success in the exams, certified by the “Ministry of Rites” qualified them to participate in the national exam, the “Hoi”. Success at the “Hoi” qualified the student to join the royal exam, the “Dinh”, held at court. At this exam, the monarch himself posed the questions, responded to the candidate’s answer and then ranked those who passed into different grades. The Imperial Academy was the largest educational center in the nation.
Especially, 82 gravestones have been recognized by UNESCO as the Data of World Heritage. They have been the unique steles for doctor in the world that noted not only the list of the doctors in the exam before (from the year of 1442 to 1779) but also the history of the examinations and educational philosophy of the dynasties.
With its great historic and cultural value, the Temple of Literature is nowadays the famous destination not only for the Vietnamese but also for the Foreigners.