Built during the reign of King Ly Thai To (1010-1028), the temple is dedicated to Huyen Thien Tran Vu, the saint who guarded and administered the north of the country. Thus, the temple is called Tran Vu Temple, or the temple of Quan Thanh Tran Vu.
Saint Tran Vu is a combination of a character in Vietnam legend and a mystic character derived from China. In Vietnamese legend, he helped Thuc Phan (King An Duong Vuong) get rid of the ghost plaguing the construction of Co Loa Citadel. In Chinese legend, Tran Vu was a saint who protected the northern border.
Situated in large and beautiful grounds next to the West Lake and near the northern gate of the former feudal capital of Thang Long, Quan Thanh Temple was one of the Four Guards of Thang Long Citadel.
The temple has been renovated many times, the latest being in the 19th century when the three entrance gates, yard, main chambers and the shrine were redone.
In front of the temple stands a screen carved with a tiger, considered to be the guard of the temple. Passing through the gate, visitors enter a large yard shaded by a giant banyan tree before reaching the main hall.
Inside the temple is a 3.95-metre bronze statue on a stone pedestal dedicated to Huyen Thien Tran Vu. The four-tonne statue was cast during the reign of King Le Huy Tong in 1677 to replace the old wooden one. It is one of the oldest and largest statues in Hanoi.
Another object of no less significance is a smaller black bronze statue of Old Trong, the chief of a team of artisans from Ngu Xa village who cast the giant statue of Saint Tran Vu and the 1.15-metre bell atop the entrance.
Hanoians usually come to Quan Thanh Temple at the Lunar New Year Festival (Tet) and on the first and fifteenth day of the lunar month to worship and pray for health, luck and happiness. The temple is one of the most visited places together with other famous and beautiful pagodas in the capital such as Tran Quoc, Quan Su, Kim Lien and Ba Da.
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