At the moment I'm still in England on summer holiday but I thought a great way to start off my blog would be to tell everyone about my own personal favourite place in Hanoi (other than the ice cream shop - more on this at a later date): The Temple of Literature.
I've also put some information for those of you who know nothing at all, and want to enlighten yourselves, important and interesting facts are highlighted in case you are extremely busy (if you are then why is this??? It's the holidays)!
What is it?
The Temple of Literature was the first university of Vietnam. It was founded as a Confucian temple in 1070 and functioned as a school for over 700 years.
The front entrance is called the great portico and the eight stelae (which is basically a posh word for giant stones with commemerations on) warm visitors that they must dismount off their horse before entering.
It was established to educate Vietnams mandarin (Mandarin) class which is basically a bureaucrat: the elite of society. Nobles and royalty were also taught here.
Only the king was allowed to walk down the central path.
What can you see there?
This area is called the garden of stelae (giant stones) and the large central pond which looks nothing much is called the well of heavenly clarity. Surrounding this are statues of 82 stone tablets with the names of graduates written upon them in ancient Chinese (which was studied by the students) (Oxford).
The turtle is one of Vietnams four celebrated creatures along with the dragon, phoenix, and unicorn. It symbolises longevity which is why everyone comes to see the endangered turtle of Ho Kiem lake.
In the final courtyard objects used by students are displayed, these are things such as: clothing, utensils, books and inkwells.
What did they study?
Ancient poetry, literature, ancient Chinese and often they wrote poetry of their own. The final royal examination was posed by the king himself and he would determine what grade you should receive from the answers you gave him. It took students between 3 and 7 years to graduate (temple and vietnam).
When can I visit and for how much?
Open: Tuesday - Sunday
April 15th - October 15th: 7.30 am - 5.30pm
Rest of the year: 8am- 5.30pm
10,000 VND entry - dollars
Brochures are available for 3,000 VND and guides can be requested to give tours in different languages. (vietnamonline)
More articles about the temple:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_Literature,_Hanoi - a lot more information if you're interested
http://www.vietnam-beauty.com/cities/ha-noi/4-ha-noi/69-temple-of-literature-van-mieu-quoc-tu-giam-.html - Another actual article about what a great attraction this is.
http://www.vietnamonline.com/attraction/temple-of-literature.html - has a map so you can find where to go.