The Temple of Literature is Vietnam's first university, and one of the oldest universities in the world. Founded in 1070, the Confucian temple was the home to the Vietnamese Imperial Academy, which trained court mandarins for important civil roles.
The temple is one of Hnaoi's biggest tourist sites, so it's not hard to get to. It is located on Quoc Tu Giam Street, Dong Da District in Hanoi. It's a 20-30 minute walk from Hoan Kiem Lake, and any taxi or cyclo driver will be able to take you there quickly.
Adult: 30,000d; Student (including ISIC card): 15,000d
Open daily 8am-6pm.
One of the most famous sites in the compound are the Stelae of Doctors, large stone tablets sitting on the back of carved turtles. Each one is carved with records of the imperial examinations, along with the names and information of the graduates.
The turtle is the traditional Vietnamese symbol of wisdom and longevity.
In the back of the complex is the main temple building, holding various historical artifacts and a Confucian shrine.
Inside are statues dedicated to important Imperial Vietnamese figures. The historical artifacts are fascinating, and include items such as the robes used by students at the Imperial Academy, ink brushes, and textbook carriers.
If you only have a short time in Hanoi, you mustn't miss the Temple of Literature. It's one of the city's most popular destinations for a reason. In just a short time you can learn a lot about ancient Vietnamese history and culture, especially if you rent an audio guide.