Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam, Vietnam’s first university

As a diverse and rich complex of historic-cultural vestiges in Hanoi city, situated to the South of Thang Long Citadel, Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam is the symbol of Vietnamese education. It is the first university in Vietnam.

Presently, this place was ranked one of 23 special national relics. Van Mieu- Quoc Tu Giam architectural complex consists of Van lake, Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam area and Giam garden, of which the main architectures are Van Mieu (Temple of Literature)-, where worships Khong Tu and Quoc Tu Giam (National university), the first university of Vietnam. Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam is surrounded by brick walls, the interior is divided into 5 courtyards with different styles. Every courtyard is separated by brick walls. These walls have 3 gates including one main gate in the middle and 2 subsidiary ones at either side. During over 700 years of activity, thousands of Vietnamese scholars graduated from this university. At present, Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam is not only the finest historical and cultural site for domestic and international visitors but also the place to honor excellent students and hold annual fair on the 15th day of 1st lunar month. Especially, many students often come here to pray for a good luck before every examination.

Van Mieu was constructed in October 1070 to worship Confucius, sages and Chu Van An, the respectable teacher who had a big contribution to Vietnamese education. In 1076, Quoc Tu Giam was built right behind Van Mieu to serve for studying of princes and then it opened to admit brilliant students all over the country. Van Mieu is surrounded by brick walls. The interior is divided into 5 courtyards. The first courtyard extends from the main gate. The gate was carved the words “Van Mieu” and laid a couple of stone dragon. There is a central pathway leading to Dai Trung Mon (Great Middle gate), the territory of the second courtyard. Its territory contains Khue Van Cac (“Constellation of Literature pavilion”) and two small gates. The third courtyard is the area from Khu Van  to Dai Thanh Mon. In the middle of this courtyard is a square lake called Thien Quang Tinh (“Well Of Heavenly Clarity” ).

On either side of the well stand two great halls which house the treasures of the temple. There are currently 82 stelae.  The oldest stele wrote about the examination in 1442 and the latest recorded the examination in 1779. They are the most precious historical vestiges of the historical and cultural site. Entering Dai Thanh gate (“Gate of great synthesis”) is a large courtyard. On either side of it is Ta Vu and Huu Vu halls, where worship Confucian scholars. At the end of the courtyard stand majestic Dai Bai and Hau Cung halls. Some valuable exhibits are displayed here including a bronze bell on the left, a drum on the right.

Van Mieu is a diverse and abundant cultural heritage complex of Hanoi city. Nowadays, Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam is the place to report results of literature and recite beautiful poetries of Vietnam Writers’ Association on the 15th day of 1st lunar month. It is also the place where Government offers degrees: Professor, Doctorate… Every year, after graduation of higher education, valedictorians of universities gather at Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam to receive merit list from Chairman of Hanoi city’s People’s Committee and attend cultural activities. Especially, this place is also tourist destination of many visitors.

As far as vestiges are concerned, Garden of the Stelae is where keeps the most precious vestiges of the whole historical and cultural site. 82 stone stelae have great values in many aspects. They are the only original documents continuously preserved since Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam was built. Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam is historical relics that Vietnamese people are proud of. It is said that it can not be a Hanoi explorer without visiting Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam. There is a large amount of students come here every year to rub the tortoise head with hope of getting luck before entering an important exam.

By Fiona

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