Founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, the Temple of Literature is dedicated to Confucius (Khong Tu). Inside you’ll find a pond known as the ‘Well of Heavenly Clarity’, a low-slung pagoda and statues of Confucius and his disciples. A rare example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture, the complex honours Vietnam’s finest scholars and men of literary accomplishment. It is the site of Vietnam’s first university, established here in 1076, when entrance was only granted to those of noble birth.
After 1442 a more egalitarian approach was adopted and gifted students from all over the nation headed to Hanoi to study the principles of Confucianism, literature and poetry. In 1484 Emperor Ly Thanh Tong ordered that stelae be erected to record the names, places of birth and achievements of exceptional scholars: 82 of 116 stelae remain standing. Paths lead from the imposing tiered gateway on P Quoc Tu Giam through formal gardens to the Khue Van pavilion, constructed in 1802.
The wall around this area extends for a full block and includes ancient buildings and temples, along with various water features. It takes one back in time and is worthwhile outing.