Pagodas and Religious Sites in Hanoi Ultimate Tour Guide
Through more than 1000 years of civilization, Vietnam has built a fruitful cultural diversity. Whereas HCMC in the South all year round has a hustling and electric beat of life, Hanoi reserves an ancient and elegant look with stamps of fusion culture and history. Particularly, religion in Vietnam is a delicate spiritual mix through the foreign influence of both Eastern and Western cultures. Religious sites such as temples, pagodas, churches in Hanoi are, after all, famous attractions among international tourists when coming to Vietnam as a closer look into the culture and traditions of this historical nation. If you are interested in learning about the deep-rooted culture that has been heavily affecting every Vietnamese values and daily life, this article is definitely for you so keep on reading!
Ngoc Son Temple
Even though it is located on a small island in the North of Hoan Kiem Lake, the center of entertainment, the most upbeat area of the city, Ngoc Son Temple still remains a sacred and solemn atmosphere. The imposing Buddhist temple was built during the 19th century and surely, it has witnessed all ups and downs in the history of Thang Long Capital.
Ngoc Son Temple Entrance
The site includes Ngoc Son Temple, The Huc Bridge, Thap But (Pen Tower) and Dai Nghien (Ink Slab). Thap But was built at the entrance of the temple in a shape of a brush pen that inscribed “Ta Thanh Thien” (writing on the blue sky) on its side. Since their creation, the Pen Tower and the Ink Slab have become sacred symbols of national literature and university examinations to discover talented people.
The Huc Bridge
To enter Ngoc Son Temple, tourists will cross a scarlet wooden bridge called The Huc Bridge, the image of this bridge has deeply imbedded in Hanoian mind for hundreds of years. Going inside the temple, you will see a giant turtle considered to be one of the 4 giant turtles ever lived in Hoan Kiem Lake and attached to the legend of King Le Loi returning the sword to the Golden Turtle God in the battle with Minh invaders from the national border.
Temple of Literature
Temple of Literature Entrance
As a symbol of national education, Van Mieu is the temple of Confucius of Hanoi and hosts the Imperial Academy (Quoc Tu Giam), the first-ever national university. Constructed in 1070 in Ly Thanh Tong Dynasty, Temple of Literature preserves a wealth of history of how the educational system works in the past. Ceremonies, study sessions and strict national exams of Dai Viet (former name of Vietnam) all took place here.
Each stela represents a noted scholar
The temple is divided into 5 separate areas: the Temple of Literature, the Great Wall, the Khue Van Cac, Dai Thanh, and the Thai temple. The third courtyard, the Khue Van Cac, consists of the large four-shaped Thien Quang well and 2 halls of Stelae of Doctors. Each row has 41 stelae representing 82 scholars who have achieved honorable title in the National Exam. Every year, especially in Tet holiday, thousands of students flock to Temple of Literature to pray for luck in their study, this has been a Vietnamese tradition for a long time.
One Pillar Pagoda
One-pillar Pagoda is a historical Buddhist pagoda in Hanoi attracting millions of tourists every year with its unique architecture. The site belongs to the Ho Chi Minh Complex in the Western part of the city. The silhouette of it resembles that of a lotus flower in the legendary story of Emperor Ly Thai To. The King had dreamt of meeting Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara on a great lotus in the middle of a large square-shaped lotus pond, on the Western side of Thang Long Citadel and gave the King a baby boy. Months after, the Queen gave birth to a baby boy and Emperor Ly Thai To ordered the construction of the pagoda that appeared in his dream to honor Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.
Unique Structure of One-pillar Pagoda
What you see today is just the main part of the original construction whereas it used to be a large building. It is believed that praying at One-pillar Pagoda brings about happiness and prosperity.
Tran Quoc Pagoda
Established in Ly Nam De times (541-547), Tran Quoc Pagoda is known to be the oldest pagoda in Vietnam. The pagoda is renowned by its lush greenery sight and Buddhist values that it treasures for more than 1500 years.
Tran Quoc Pagoda in Westlake
The site originally did not situate on this islet of Ho Tay but on the shore of the Red River, outside Yen Phu Dyke. The change of location was made due to the river’s encroachment in 1615. As a Buddhist center of Thang Long citadel under the Ly and Tran dynasty, Tran Quoc Pagoda contains historical and architectural values. Therefore, you can experience by yourself some local traditional customs that are still in practice up until the present such as burning incense and offering a small amount of food or drink. Both activities have their own spiritual meanings. Food and drinks are like a small present towards the gods to pay gratitude to their grant of luck. And the smoke from the burning incense is the intangible connection between human beings and gods from the spiritual world so that they can hear your prayers and wishes.
Significant architecture in Tran Quoc Pagoda
The arrangement of 3 houses with different chamber strictly follow Buddhism norm. The whole visiting site includes Tien Duong (Front House), Nha To (Ancestor House) and Nha Bia (Stele House). Perhaps the most outstanding area is the Bao Thap Luc Do Dai Sen - a red 15-meter tower with 11 stories, each has 6 arched elegantly carved windows. The top tower has Cuu Pham Lien Hoa, a nine-story lotus made from gemstone symmetrical with the 50-year-old Bodhi tree on the opposite. Find yourself in a quiet place of your soul and look into the rich culture of Buddhism in Tran Quoc Pagoda.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral Hanoi
Hanoi’s architecture is partly influenced by Western culture, especially near the Old Quarter area. During the French colonial period, they had left striking marks of their civilization by building numerous churches. St. Joseph’s Cathedral Hanoi is the most notable attraction among travelers.
St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi
Completed on December 24th, 1886, the church is the first construction built by the French colonial government in Indochina and. The cathedral has an architecture with domes and colorful window glasses following the Neo-Gothic style and design of Notre-Dame de Paris. Tourists will definitely be surprised with an ancient and faded exterior made of granite stone slabs and the big, glorious and solemn interior of the Cathedral. St. Joseph's Cathedral in Hanoi is always the place for Christians living in this city to come and pray occasionally. Moreover, around the cathedral is commonplace for locals gathering their friends and families every weekend.
In conclusion, coming to Hanoi is not only an opportunity to admire the stunning architecture and beautiful landscape, but it also provides you a deeper look into the history and culture, a remarkable combination of Eastern and Western culture in this capital of Vietnam