Hanoi is an ancient city with deep branching roots in history, thus resulting in many culturally important historical sites. One of them is the Quan Thanh Temple (also called Tran Vu Temple). This ancient temple is situated beside the vast tranquil West Lake and is easily accessible from the center of Hanoi. The Quan Thanh Temple is yet another must-see temple when visiting Hanoi.
Quan Thanh Temple in the past
The temple dated back to the 11th century and was constructed in dedication to one of the principal Taoist’s deities. Legend has it that the Quan Thanh Temple was built during the reign of Emperor Ly Thai To (reigned 1010-1028), who moved the capital from Hoa Lu (presently called Ninh Binh) to Thang Long (now known as Hanoi). The construction of the Quan Thanh Temple was to mark the beginning of the newly established capital and the birth of a prince.
The temple was dedicated to Tran Vu, Deity of the North in Taoism, whose symbols of power are represented by a serpent and a turtle. According to history, the Quan Thanh Temple in Hanoi is one of the Four Sacred Temples (Thang Long Tu Tran) erected to ward the city off evil spirits. Each of the four temples is positioned in their respective direction relative to the city's center to worship a specific deity: Tran Vu in the north (Quan Thanh Temple), Bach Ma in the east (Bach Ma Temple), Cao Vuong in the south (Kim Lien Temple) and Linh Lang in the west (Voi Phuc Temple).
Bach Ma is a small yet sacred temple in the Hanoi Old Quarter
Quan Thanh Temple main gate
Throughout the centuries, Quan Thanh Temple in Hanoi was refurbished numerous times, with its most recent massive update in 1893. The principal gate and the shrine were completely redecorated, so the architecture is now a mixture of styles in the imperial era.
Quan Thanh temple yard
The temple’s main features include a spacious yard with a giant banyan tree and many bronze statues and shrines. Locals would use this front space and cool shades of the trees to practice martial arts in the afternoon.
Tran Vu bronze statue
Visitors can see the black bronze statue of Tran Vu along with his two symbolic animals. The figure is the second-largest bronze statue in Vietnam and reflects the advanced bronze casting techniques of Vietnamese artisans in the 17th century.
The main shrine and its hall are lavishly decorated with bright red and gold color that gives off a grand sense of respect. There is also a collection of valuable ancient texts such as poems and duilians dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Some can be seen hanging above from the ceiling.
Shrine dedicated to other deities
Other smaller shrines can be found within the temple dedicated to other deities.
The pillars in front of the temple and its decorative architecture
Take a moment to admire the wondrous decorative architectures and the bronze statues and wooden carvings that the temple has to offer.
Just like any other temples, the Quan Thanh Temple in Hanoi is a place of worship and thus, it is recommended that visitors follow the dress code of covering all limbs and avoid any transparent clothing. It is also good to not be rowdy and take a steady pace when exploring the temple.
Located in the Tay Ho District of Hanoi, Quan Thanh Temple can be reached in about 15 minutes from Hanoi’s Old Quarter by car or motorbike. It is a convenient location situated by the calm and beautiful West Lake. Visitors can often make a day trip to Quan Thanh Temple and then go over to the nearby Tran Quoc Pagoda. The Thang Long Imperial Citadel and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum are also close-by attractions in the area.
Opening hours: 8 AM - 11 AM | 2 PM - 5 PM
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The Quan Thanh Temple is worth a visit for those interested in places of cultural value or have an admiration for historical architectures. At the same time, it is an excellent destination for visitors to Hanoi as many other places of interest located nearby.
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© Written by Long Tran for itourvn.com