Temple of Literature is a temple of Confucius in Vietnam. Although several Văn Miếu can be found throughout Vietnam, the most prominent and famous is that situated in the city of Hanoi, which also functioned as Vietnam's first university.
The landmark was founded in 1070 as a Confucian temple. Only parts of the Văn Miếu complex date back to the earliest period, although much of the architecture dates to the Lý (1010 – 1225) and Trần (1225 – 1400) Dynasties.
In 1076 Vietnam's first university, the Quốc Tử Giám or Imperial Academy, was established within the temple to educate Vietnam's bureaucrats, nobles, royalty and other members of the elite. The university functioned for more than 700 years, from 1076 to 1779. Given the extreme difficulty of the doctor laureate tests, few students passed final examinations. The list of names engraved on the stone stele every year during this period is very small. The stele records 2,313 students graduating as doctor laureats.
Emperor Lê Thánh Tông established the tradition, dating back to 1484, of carving the names of the laureates of the university on stone steles that were placed on top of stone tortoises. Of the 116 steles corresponding to the examinations held between 1142 and 1778, only 82 remain.
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