301 The Temple of Literature, Van Mieu

515h-learning-templeOriginally, in the 11th century it was a Temple dedicated to Confucius.

Later it became a famous university. In the late 1400s the Emperor ordered columns set on stone tortoises to honor 82 men who had received doctorates.

The grounds are groomed and old trees provide shade in places that must have been inspirational to students. Perhaps a thousand years ago it wasn’t difficult to find a serene place but as Hanoi grew around the grounds they truly became an enclave. 

518h-learning-templeThere are several courtyards set in the midst of wonderful early Vietnamese architecture. As you enter the first you’re thrust upon a reflecting pool. It was probably quite serene when only a few students sat studying. Today however, the tourists push and crowd to get a good spot to view and see the turtles swimming in the green water. 

People walk down the rows of columns and rub the tops of the heads of the stone tortoise for luck. 

516h-touching-turtles  student